City of St. Clairsville

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Ordinance Number 2019 – 21

ORDINANCE NUMBER 2019 – 21

AN ORDINANCE TO MAKE REALLOCATIONS (SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS) WITHIN THE FUNDS FOR THE NORMAL EXPENSES AND OTHER EXPENDITURES OF THE CITY OF ST. CLAIRSVILLE, STATE OF OHIO, FOR THE PERIOD JANUARY 1, 2019 THROUGH DECEMBER 31, 2019 AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OHIO:

SECTION 1:  That to provide for the normal expenses and other expenditures of the said City of St. Clairsville, Ohio, for the period January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019, the attached line item transfers are required:

SEE ATTACHED UAN REPORTS

Inside Fund Supplemental Appropriations

Transfer of $60,000.00 from 5101-539-430 (Permanent Improvements) to 5101-800-500 (Repairs)

Transfer of $60,000.00 from 1000-790-341 (Trans Out) to 1000-910-910 (Accounting & Legal Fees)

Transfer of $50,000.00 from 5201-549-430 (Permanent Improvement) to 5201-800-590 (Repairs)

 

SECTION 2:  That this Ordinance is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety of the residents of the City, so that the City can maintain normal operations.

SECTION 3:  That this Ordinance shall take effect and be in force from and after the earliest period allowed by the Charter of the City of St. Clairsville, Ohio.

Passed:  September 3, 2019

Approved:  September 3, 2019

UAN report accompanying Ord. No. 2019-21

Ordinance Number 2019 – 21


St. Clairsville Water Sewer Facts

This page is designed to explain to the residents of St. Clairsville, Ohio the situation faced by the City relating to our water and wastewater (sewage) systems.

We expect to update it regularly, as the City collects new information. The newest information will be presented in bold for the ease of people returning to the page for updates.

The document is organized in two sections. The first section is a summary of key information presented chronologically with the latest information in bold at the bottom. The second section will address questions we have received from City Officials, our Bid Review Committee and the community at large.

My hope is that this page will serve as a resource for facts that will help dispel confusion and disinformation about this important issue that impacts every member of our community.

My administration and the City Council don’t have a choice when it comes to needed upgrades at our water and wastewater plants. The work must be done in the next few years, and it is going to cost approximately $25 million.

We do have a choice about how to pay for the upgrades. We can increase water bills by more than $100 a month and then compete against other Ohio communities for scarce grants and loans or, we can sell the systems to a professional utility, regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The sale would involve modest, predictable rate increases, ongoing investment in the systems for reliability and compliance, and funds to support other St. Clairsville priorities.

I hope you will find this page helpful as the City discusses how to pay for the needed upgrades to our systems.

-Terry Pugh, Mayor

Background and Summary

At more than 90-years old, our water treatment plant and aging distribution system (water mains) are reaching the end of their useful lives. While our sewage treatment plant is in better shape (built in the 1980’s), the aging waste collection system that feeds the plant allows excess water into the system. This results in flooded basements (with untreated sewage) and making treatment costs skyrocket during hard rains.

The water treatment plant, water distribution system, wastewater collection system and sewage treatment plant all need to work together to keep our residents healthy and protect the environment. Treatment standards have changed significantly over the past 90 years.

The City’s finished water currently meets all health, safety and environmental requirements established by the Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies (OEPA & USEPA). However, the plants face frequent breakdowns, and the inability to maintain systems (because of their original designs and aging components) regularly put our compliance at risk. Additionally, our aging water distribution system is responsible for discoloration, laundry stains, taste and odor frustrations throughout the community. Finally, 27% of our water mains are too small to meet modern fire protection standards.

The Ohio EPA has issued the city numerous Notices of Violation. Therefore, we must take decisive action to improve our water treatment system or face enforcement action and significant fines.

To see photos from inside the St. C water treatment plant click here.

All combined, the estimated costs to update our treatment, distribution and collection systems to modern standards exceeds $25 million. The City does not have this level of funds on hand; and, in order to qualify to compete for grants or low-interest loans for these types of projects, the City would have to more than double water and sewer bills.

To see the most recent cost estimates to rebuild the water treatment plant click here.

Note: This document includes options for expanding the water treatment plant for which there is no space and does not include costs to improve the wastewater collection systems.

To see the water and sewer rate Implications of this Issue click here.

Soon after taking office in 2016, Mayor Pugh asked his Public Services Director to identify options that meet OEPA directives and support inevitable growth in the area without excessive water rate increases.

The City has explored several options, and narrowed them to two. The first is to more than double current water bills and compete for scarce low-interest loans and even more scarce grant funding. This increase would not guarantee that we would receive assistance, only that we met the requirements to apply for help. If we received grants or loans, there is no guarantee that they would be large enough to tackle all the needs the City faces.

The second option would be for the City to partner with a professional utility company regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Under this model, the operator would purchase the systems and use its capital to fund the needed updates and future improvements. For St. Clairsville, this means we could settle our existing $3.5 million utility debt. At the same time, we could also ensure our water and wastewater quality and compliance requirements are met, and that improvements could be made without skyrocketing rates.

The City administration and Council are now discussing the merits of both of these options.

Questions and Answers

How many proposals did St. Clairsville receive from regulated utilities for the purchase of the systems?

The City conducted our typical general bid process. Only one entity, Aqua Ohio, expressed interest in the form of an official proposal.

What are the highlights of the Aqua proposal?

Summary

In short, their proposal calls for more modest rate increases, ongoing investment in the systems and a one-time payment to the City of $10.6 million. The City could use these funds to retire our existing $3.5 million utility debt and start a capital projects fund to support other priorities like road repairs and solving stormwater problems (like those faced in the Belleview area). Additionally, by removing the systems from government ownership, the property would begin generating annual property taxes and other revenues that come back to our City to support our schools and community.

Proposed Rates

Aqua proposed a rate plan that uses the rate schedule already approved by our City Council though 2022. After that, they expect to increase the minimum water portion of the bill from $26.98 in 2022 to $31.23 in 2025. For the sewer portion of the bill, Aqua would use our approved rates through 2022 with NO additional increases through 2025.

Staff

Aqua would retain the City’s existing water and wastewater staff and use its team of professionals to supplement their expertise and reduce costs. As an example, Aqua Ohio has in-house engineering, customer service, communication and compliance teams to assist our local staff without the need to outsource those services saving both time and money.

How long has the City known about the problems with the water system?

The City has reports from the engineering firm Burgess and Niple outlining major problems in the systems dating back to at least June 1984. As the problems grew, that firm also submitted plans in 1987, 1988, 1999 to update and improve the system. In 2015 the engineering firm W.E. Quicksall and Associates submitted a proposal to the City’s previous administration to resolve issues at the water plant.

There may be additional reports that the current administration has not yet uncovered.

To see photos from inside the St. C water treatment plant click here.

Over the years, the City has addressed acute issues at the plants and repaired broken pipes to restore service. The sewer treatment plant was rebuilt in the 1980’s but the water treatment, distribution and sewer collection problems have never been addressed comprehensively.

What are the rate implications of the needed repairs?

The St. Clairsville Mayor and City Council are discussing how to best pay for $20 to $25 million of needed improvements to the City’s aging water and wastewater systems. An important consideration is the cost that the ratepayers would pay in either scenario.

According to the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, in order to qualify for utility repair financing, the City would need to increase rates to at least 2.5% of our median annual household income, which is $68,000. This would involve a steep increase in 2020 and regular increases thereafter.

Under a proposal from Aqua Ohio, rate increases would be significantly lower.

The table below shows the rate implications for a typical St. Clairsville family using 4,000 gallons of water per month. Note: The City Council has not passed a rate schedule for the years 2023-2026.

This table shows the rate implications for a typical St. Clairsville senior citizen using 2,000 gallons per month. Note: The City Council has not passed a rate schedule for the years 2023-2026.

How can Aqua Ohio upgrade the system without such steep rate increases?

The biggest difference is that because Aqua wouldn’t be applying for state or federal financing, there is no need to meet the requirement of rates being 2.5% of the median household income.

Another big reason a company like Aqua could avoid a big rate spike is that they are able to operate more efficiently and take advantage of economies of scale. Aqua Ohio operates 38 water and wastewater systems across the state serving approximately 500,000 Ohioans. They are able to buy materials and supplies in larger volumes and get better pricing per unit. They can also spread costs among a larger number of people. For example, if the City needs to purchase a $20,000 pump, that cost is shared among our 5,200 residents. Each resident’s burden is about $3.85. Under the Aqua model, the cost would be shared among their customers and the individual burden of that $20,000 pump would only be about $0.04.

Aqua also has another key advantage when it comes to keeping costs down. Because of its size, the company has in-house engineering, customer service, communication and compliance teams. Therefore it avoids the need to outsource those services saving both time and money.

Is it true that the company could raise rates anytime they like and what should we expect to happen to our rates after the rates quoted in the proposal through 2026?

No, Aqua does not have the ability to change rates at will. Because the company is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, they must request permission from the commission for any rate change. The request must justify the need for the increase and the commission conducts a thorough review of the company’s financial documentation, operational, compliance, customer satisfaction and other records. The process generally takes between nine and 12 months, and it includes a public comment period and a series of public hearings where customers are invited to testify.

While it is impossible to accurately predict rates more than seven years in advance, we can use the rates Aqua charges in its other Ohio service areas as an indicator. Some of their rates vary among jurisdictions, but their customers that have both sewer and water service and use 4,000 gallons a month are paying under $110. Among their water and wastewater systems in Central Ohio, which they purchased in 2012, monthly water / wastewater bills have increased by an average of $2.01 per year. While this is more than our residents are currently paying for service, they are considerably lower than our rates would be if the City was to pay for the improvements using loans.

How can we be confident that Aqua Ohio would invest in our infrastructure and not let the system that serves St. Clairsville get worse?

Aqua has a strong track record of investing in its systems for compliance and reliability. They typically invest between $30 and $40 million per year in its 38 Ohio systems. In 2019 Aqua is spending $44 million on water and wastewater improvement projects.

City staff is working on answers to other questions relating to this issue that have been presented over the past several weeks.

We encourage residents to check back regularly. New information is presented in bold font.


August 19, 2019 Council Minutes

COUNCIL MINUTES

August 19, 2019

St. Clairsville City Council met in Council Chambers on Monday, August 19, 2019 with the following present:

Tim Porter, Council President                         Terry Pugh, Mayor

Perry Basile, Council, 1st Ward                        Jim Zucal, Director of Public Services

Mark Bukmir, Council 3rd Ward                       Richard Myser, Law Director

Linda Jordan, Council-At-Large                       Tom Murphy, Planning & Zoning Administrator

Beth Oprisch, Council-At-Large                      Cindi Henry, Finance Director

Mike Smith, Council-At-Large                         Don Smithberger, Director of General Services

Jim Velas, Council 4th Ward                            Jeff Henry, Police Chief

The meeting was called to order by President, Tim Porter

Minutes:  August 5, 2019 minutes not available

Citizens Hearing: 

Kathryn Thalman:  As we all know the Administration of the City of St. Clairsville has been engaged in a campaign to sell our water to AQUA Corporation and basically give away all control of the water and sewage to a private corporation.  Their first responsibility is to their stockholders and while I was on the water committee I asked a lot of questions about the viability the wisdom and the reason for the sale.  Despite my asking questions over and over again such is there a buy back clause, a performance clause, is there a guarantee of updating and replacing our infrastructure and where is the eleven million dollars going to go that St. Clairsville is going to get?  None of my questions were ever answered.  I was met with stone walling, with vacillation about selling the actual reservoirs and irritation that I kept asking questions.  I was told the lawyers would hammer it out.  When I asked if we would meet with the lawyers after they fine-tuned this I was told no and the Water Committee was abruptly absolved by the Mayor.  Despite constant concern and citizens not wanting to sell our water I was told this cannot be on the ballot nor can it be delayed.  AQUA is being shoved down our throats.  When a Councilman asked at the last meeting for a delay he was curtly told no this can’t be delayed.  I sent a request form via the Sunshine Laws to the EPA.  I received a lot of information.  One of the most interesting was a letter dated March 11, 2019 from the EPA acknowledging the departure of our class three operator and Mr. Zucal was told immediately that we needed to obtain a class three operator.  I can read from the letter.

“Immediately obtain the appropriately certified ORC to be on site who performs technical operation of the water system.  (this is the best part) failure to have an appropriately certified operator of record by March 26. 2019 may result in civil or administrative penalties up to $25,000 a day.  Here is what we have been brought to, I talked to the same gentleman today and nothing has changed.  There can be civil penalties because we do not have a category three operator.  Mr. Zucal sent a letter on March 22nd asking for a six month extension.  It was granted, that six months will be up on September 11th.  I think this is the reason for the urgency selling this to AQUA.  So rather than doing what should have been done in the beginning with the class three operator for which we will be fined.  We now have a press agent onboard from Columbus to talk us all into selling our water, great move.  There are two category two operators in our plant.  Have either of them been offered the opportunity to go get their certification, take the test so we have a level three operator?   I would like to see copies of all the grants you have applied for in the last several years.  Any turning down by the agencies of these grants.  I would also like to know if you did put something out to get a category three operator.  I would like copies of the independent contract assessment of the costs that you put in the paper today.  By the way that was a good job.  I would like to know where all the numbers come from that you gave.  I just wanted to make sure that truly this is a transparent procedure.  Jim Zucal:  We have been granted an extension.  It is not so simple to say to a class two operator I want you to be a class three.  You have to have X amount or hours, you have X account of continuing education courses, you have to have X amount of training a when you have fulfilled those requirements you take a physical test to become a class three.  I assure our water is safe, we follow all the protocell we need to follow.  Our intention is if we are not there at that time we will ask for another extension.  We have no violations that result from not having a class three.  We are in good standing as far as that goes and I will be glad to keep Council informed.  Mayor Pugh:  I have talked with Craig Butler, the Chief of the EPA a number of times and we talked about this subject.  If it comes to be that AQUA becomes the company that was selected to privatize our service I also asked him if we could work with AQUA and pay an operator to come here as a class three because a class three is an expensive proposition especially to come here.  I was told by the EPA the day before Thanksgiving that if I didn’t have an operator at the sewer plant by 4:30 that day that I would be fined $5,000 a day.  What Mr. Butler told me was that he would be more than willing to work with me.  Beth to answer one of your main concerns, would it be fair to go out and look for a class three since we don’t have to right now to hire him and then if it was sold to AQUA maybe jeopardize a man’s job that had to move here.  That has been a big concern of yours is employees.

Beth Oprisch:  No that would not be good.

Bill Brooks:  No one has said that our water plant is not in bad shape.  All we asked was that an independent engineer be hired to provide an up-to- date assessment of how much it would cost to band-aide our system so that the system will hold up until we can get on county water and what would be needed as far as rate increases.  Instead you hire a public relations firm from Columbus which also works for AQUA-OH.  He was on the Demitri show this weekend and he made the statement that he is working for both of you. I consider that the same thing as selling a house and you let me get an appraiser to tell you how much the house is worth.  That is crazy.

Selling or our systems will financially devastate our senior citizens and our hardworking families.  It may also put in danger the successful passing of any future levies.

Once again, Mr. Zucal, I am asking that you provide in writing a list of all grants and loans which you have applied for in regards to our water systems.  I am also requesting, in writing, the names of all places that you advertised in for a class 3 water operator and the salary that was offered.

Jim Zucal:  For the record, I never applied for a class 3 water operator anywhere, it was not our intention.  We just told you that we asked for an extension.  I just told you that we asked for an extension and we plan to ask for another one.  I talk to members of the EPA every day.  There are also free-lance operators who travel through the area that I can peruse.  I will never put the city in jeopardy.

REPORTS:

Service Director, Jim Zucal

At the last Council meeting, I outlined the condition of our 90-year-old water treatment plant and distribution system.  Our current plant has exceeded its useful life and some parts are literally crumbling.  To demonstrate the condition of the plant, last week, I hosted several members of the media on a tour of our plant. What I wasn’t able to share during the tour is the fact that our distribution system is also in bad shape.

  • Corrosion inside the mains is responsible for customer frustrations about taste, odor and discoloration.
  • Almost a quarter of our mains are too small to meet modern fire protection standards.
  • Leaks throughout the system are responsible for the loss of about 30% of the water that leaves our plant. This is water that our residents have already paid to treat.
  • Water main breaks are responsible for frequent service outages and boil advisories.

To update our water system, it will cost the city between $20 and $25 million.  Not to mention, we’re carrying over $3 and a half million in debt for past water and sewer projects.  These costs don’t address any of needs I our wastewater collection and treatment system.

Some people have suggested we simply use water supplied by the Belmont County Water treatment plant.  While someday that might be our best water source, it comes with some big challenges of its own.

  • The County doesn’t have the capacity at their plant to supply all of our needs
  • While they have plans to build a new plant, that project is years from completion
  • The rate the county charges us for water is higher than what we charge our customers, leaving no resources to maintain our distribution system.

It all comes down to this: over the next few years, our water and wastewater systems need millions of dollars of investments and we don’t have the money.  Whatever we do, the city needs to take decisive action to update both our water and our wastewater systems.

At my last report, I said I’d update you about the availability of funds to help pay for our water and wastewater problems.  Finding funding for our water and wastewater systems has been an ongoing project since Mayor Pugh appointed me as the Director of Public Services.  We’ve discussed our needs with state and federal office holders several times over the years.  There are grants and low-interest loan programs for community utility projects.  Communities must demonstrate a need and meet certain criteria to compete for these funds against other jurisdictions.

There are four big reasons we don’t qualify to even apply for this assistance.  One of the biggest obstacle keeping us from qualifying for assistance is that we need to demonstrate that our water & sewer bills have reached certain levels.  Our rates need to be at least two and a half percent of our Median Household Income.  We would have to more than double our water rates to even qualify to apply for the help.  Our average home, using about 4,000 gallons a month would see their water and sewer costs jump from $86 to $190 per month.  Our typical senior citizen paying just $41 would see their bill go to $149 monthly.

Mayor Pugh believes that doubling water and sewer rates would have an unreasonable impact on our residents, especially those coping with low or fixed incomes.  Without big rate increases, we don’t even meet the qualifications to apply for assistance to raise the millions of dollars we need to invest.  The Mayor continues to talk with AQUA, other Ohio communities they serve and from third parties like the PUCO and EPA.  We’ve asked AQUA if they would consider making changes to their proposal based on council and committee input.

  • All options for funding are still on the table. Should Council choose to increase rates to meet requirements for assistance, only this Council has the authority to take that action.  We can’t afford to wait years until Belmont County builds their new plant and we don’t have any guarantees that they would be able to fill all our needs if we could wait.

Mayor, Terry Pugh

I have the Police Report for July which is available in the Mayor’s Office

The recycling bins that were located in the lot adjacent to the Rec Center have been moved to the East side of the amphitheater behind the visitor’s stands at the football field.  The road did not have a name so I named it Geno Sessi drive.  He was an outstanding football and track athlete at St. Clairsville High School.  They were moved at the request of the School who needed more student parking.

Police Chief, Jeff Henry  – No Report

Finance Director, Cindi Henry

We have Resolution No. 2019-20 it is required by the OPWC.  It is the result of the Mayor applying for the $800,000 loan for the Bellview sanitary sewer separation project.  It is part of the package they put together when the authorized it.  They want us to put this in where if we use any of our permanent improvement funds or capital projects funding we will be able to get that money back for something else we might need.  It is not an emergency.

The second thing is just for your information, we are negotiating our health care rates again.  I went over this in detail for the Finance Committee.  We were hit with a 25% increase again this year we had a broker, they negotiated and were able to have us join a group.  We had Med Mutual and we can migrate over to Anthem however we will not make that decision because the two Unions do because they have language in their contract where they get the same or similar insurance.  The difference in this program is we currently pick up their $2,000 – $4,000 deductible.  We started out doing this several years ago when we got hit with a 33 ½ % increase.  We bank on people not getting sick to make it a decent situation.  This plan would increase that by $500 on the family plan and $1,000 on the single.  I am not an advocate of the city taking on any more of that.  The other thing it increases doctor visits by $10 or $20 a visit.  This is due by the end of the month so Jim and the Mayor are trying to set up a meeting with the Unions.  This program will result in a $172,000 savings for the city.

Planning and Zoning Administrator, Tom Murphy

Construction on the structure of Olympic Tae-Kwon-Do has started in front of the Knights of Columbus

Pizza Milano is still moving forward.  Should be completed before the end of this year.

COUNCIL COMMITTEES:

Finance, Mike Smith:  The 2018 Audit report is in, it was a clean audit with no findings.  The credit goes to Cindi she does a good job with that.

Utilities, Frank Sabatino:  Not Present

Police, Mark Bukmir:  No Report

Street North Side, Jim Velas: 

We still have some small alleys that need to be paved.  They should be done by the end of September with the help of Richland Township.

Streets South Side, Beth Oprisch: 

Asked Don Smithberger about work on Route.  Don:  Water line breaks in two places.  Took several days to repair and fix the road.

Safety, Jim Velas:  Safety Meeting will be held the last Thursday of the month at the City Garage.

Building and Grounds, Perry Basile:  No Report

Planning Commission, Mike Smith:  No Report

Fire District, Frank Sabatino:  Not Present

Recreation, Linda Jordan:  Next meeting Monday, September 16th

Park District, Linda Jordan:  Tuesday & Thursday last nights for moonlight swim, pool only open on weekends, Labor Day is the last day.  Next meeting August 26th.

Law Director, Richard Myser:

Tonight we have only one piece of legislation, Resolution No. 2019-20.  That is the piece of legislation that the Finance Director explained to you for the Bellview project.  There is emergency language in it but it can be read on three readings if so desired.  No one has requested Executive Session tonight.

There was presented and read to Council on its first reading by title only, Resolution No. 2019-20; A RESOLUTION DECLARING THE OFFICIAL INTENT AND REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF THE CITY OF ST. CLAIRSVILLE ON BEHALF OF THE STATE OF OHIO (THE BORROWER) TO REIMBURSE ITS PERMANENT IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS FUND FOR THE BELLVIEW SANITARY AND STORM SEWER SEPARATION PROJECT, OPWC PROJECT NUMBER CR30W, WITH THE PROCEEDS OF TAX-EXEMPT DEBT OF THE STATE OF OHIO AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY.

NEW, OLD & OTHER BUSINESS:

Beth Oprisch:  The contract with the attorney’s that are looking at the contract with AQUA, where are we with that and what is the cost?  Jim Zucal:  Our attorney is Kim Boyco, she is out of Columbus.  She emailed me today, they are going through what they call red line adjustments, they are looking at our assets, and she is working with their attorney so we don’t have anything yet.  There is an agreement in place but we have not been billed yet so when we get that I will let you know.  She is giving us an hourly rate but I don’t remember how much.  Cindi Henry:  I will look that up tomorrow and email it to you.

I got a letter from the Mayor and I want to address it publicly.  It is about the water and his disappointment of me not meeting with him privately.  He state that he appreciated that Mr.  Sabatino, Mr. Bukmir, Mr. Velas and Mrs. Jordan all met with him and the Director of Public Services, and the City Finance Director privately to address their personal concerns.  I just want to say that anytime I have had a question they have met with me.  I appreciate the open door policy but I don’t see this as a behind the door type thing.  I wanted to address it publicly.  I feel like this is a public issue and I believe that this needs to be open.  The way I interpret my job is to listen.  I feel it is part of my responsibility to listen to the citizens.  I have always said that I always have an open door, I don’t do things behind closed doors.  What I said was four council members came in to see me with questions and questions from citizens.  I went to the Rally and I heard we need more time and we don’t have enough information.  We have been working on this for years.  What I was trying to say was I took offence when I heard we don’t have information when it is there all you have to do is ask for it.  Beth Oprisch:  I have been very open with my questions.

There being no further business to come before Council a motion to adjourn was made by Perry Basile and seconded by Mike Smith.

Minutes were adopted by Council at its regular meeting on September 3, 2019.


August 5, 2019 Council Minutes

COUNCIL MINUTES

August 5, 2019

St. Clairsville City Council met in Council Chambers on Monday, August 5, 2019 with the following present:

Tim Porter, Council President                          Terry Pugh, Mayor

Perry Basile, Council, 1st Ward                         Jim Zucal, Director of Public Services

Mark Bukmir, Council 3rd Ward                       Richard Myser, Law Director

Linda Jordan, Council-At-Large                       Tom Murphy, Planning & Zoning Administrator

Beth Oprisch, Council-At-Large                       Cindi Henry, Finance Director

Frank Sabatino, Council 2nd Ward                   Jeff Henry, Police Chief

Mike Smith, Council-At-Large                          Don Smithberger, Director of General Services

Jim Velas, Council 4th Ward

The meeting was called to order by President, Tim Porter

MINUTES:  Minutes of the July 15, 2019 meeting and the July 18, 2019 Special Meeting were distributed to Council.  A motion was made by Linda Jordan and seconded by Beth Oprisch to approve the July 15th and July 18th minutes.

Roll Call Vote:

Basile              Yes

Bukmir             Yes                              Sabatino                      Yes

Jordan              Yes                              Smith                           Yes

Oprisch            Yes                              Velas                           Yes

Roll Call Vote:  Seven (7) Yes                         Zero (0) No      Motion Approved

CITIZENS HEARING:

Bill Brooks: 

I wanted to address Council and let them know about the meeting – rally that we are having Wednesday at 6:30 in front of the Courthouse.  Several of the people who are on the Committee that I am with wanted me to ask questions.   Mr. Sabatino, have there been any meetings, discussions as a group about the water and AQUA?  Frank Sabatino:  I don’t understand the question.  Bill Brooks:  Council was to go over the bids and have a work shop about the water.  Has there been?  Jim Zucal:  There was a workshop.  Bill Brooks:  There was?  Mr. Bukmir, the same with you?  Mark Bukmir:  Yes there was.  Bill Brooks:  I thought the Mayor said that these workshops were going to be open to the public.  You have already got it where we can’t speak at the workshops but I thought he made the statement that it was going to be 100% transparent.  Mayor Pugh:  What I said Bill was the bid review would take no questions from the public however you can write a question and we would answer it in the future.  Bill Brooks:  Yes but you said Council would be having workshops and you invited the public to attend.  I came and then you went into executive session.  So I am asking you, and it is in writing that you said it was going to be transparent.  Mayor Pugh:  It was a Council meeting and it went into executive session I didn’t have anything to do with that either.  As Mayor I don’t have a vote.  Bill Brooks:  No sir but you said there would be a workshop about the bid from AQUA.  You told everyone and even had it in the paper that it would be transparent and we could come and attend this meeting.  Mayor Pugh:  I don’t think I ever said that.

REPORTS:

Service Director, Jim Zucal:

I would like to start my report this evening by updating you on our 2019 paving effort.  Again I want to thank Council for supporting the administration on an expanded paving initiative.  I would like to thank Don Smithberger and the crews of the City.  We do some milling, some catch basin repair.  We prepped ahead of time.  We think we have got it right, we are profiling the streets putting down a thicker layer of asphalt and we are making the storm water flow to the catch basin.  We are putting in new risers and valve boxes where needed.  We think we are on top of that, we think it was a very successful project and again I want to thank Council for their support.  We evaluated the needs throughout the city with an effort to balance investment across all four city wards.  We identified portions of 11 streets as needing the most critical attention.  Council approved the contractor Shelly & Sands based in Zanesville, Ohio.  We distributed approximately 18,000 tons of blacktop this year.  We completed the project on time and on Council’s approved budget of less than $200,000.  We finished well before the School year started.  I am distributing the list of streets that were improved and encourage you all to notice the positive changes where we were able to work.  Both Pinecrest and Walnut are high on the list for paving next year as well as several others. If Council does have any requests for next year, please share them with me.

I am proud to report that we just finished painting the J.B. Martin Recreation Center.  We hired Fitzpatrick painting from Barnesville.  We are pleased with the results.  I urge Council to take a look at it.  It is a very nice paint job on a nice building.  It had not been refreshed with any paint since it was built in the 80’s.  The painting job was also done on time and on budget.  It is very much improved.

We received notice that St. Clairsville was again recognized as a tree city U.S.A. for 2018.  Not only does that give us bragging rights it gives us a leg up when we compete for grants and loans for beautification projects.

Finally I would like to address some misconceptions among some members of the community about the state of our water treatment plant and distribution system.  Our 90 year old water treatment plant and aging distribution system are quickly reaching the end of their useful life.  While our sewer plant is in better shape, the waste collection system that feeds the plant is full of leaks that allow water into the system, making treatment costs skyrocket whenever we get a hard rain.  I don’t have to tell you that with the rain we have had over the past several months, our staff has been working overtime to keep up and make sure we keep the environment clean.

Back to the water treatment and distribution system:  I would like to thank the Council members who have visited the plant to see first-hand the condition of the facility.  Because of some claims made recently a few important facts need to be addressed.  Our current plant is simply not up to modern treatment standards and some parts are literally crumbling.  The roof is currently leaking and needs repair.  The building itself is in poor shape.

The Water Plant needs a complete overhaul:

  • There is very little electronic monitoring of the treatment process
  • We are unable to continue treatment while we perform maintenance
  • While we have the ability to use the emergency interconnect with the Belmont County water system which we have to open up whenever we do maintenance
  • Belmont County does not have the capacity to supply the volume of water we need for more than a day or two and if they did the rate they charge us per gallon for treated water is more than we collect from our customers
  • That would leave no funds to pay our staff or maintain our system

The City has known about these problems for decades, but leaders were slow to act because of the cost and unwillingness to increase rates.  For the water plant alone, what was once a $10 million problem has grown to what could be as high as $16 million.  Just adding on, isn’t really an option either.  Adding onto the plant if there was room which there isn’t would cost as much as $9.4 million.  And that would still leave us with half of the plant falling apart.

Our network of water mains throughout the city needs $7 million just to replace pipes that are too small to provide adequate water flows for modern fire protection standards.  It will cost more to completely address the common taste, odor and discoloration complaints.  To bring our water storage and instrumentation up to date, we’ll need to spend another $1 to $2 million.

To update our water plant, replace our undersized water mains and improve our storage and instrumentation it will cost the city between $20 and $25 million.  Not to mention, we are carrying over $3.5 million in debt for past water and sewer projects.

Some people have suggested we find someone else to pay to fix our water and wastewater problems.  They have said, “we could get the state or federal government to pay for it” trust me, I would love it if we could simply find someone else to make our problems go away.  In order to even be able to compete against other Ohio cities for scarce grants and loans for these kinds of projects, we have been told we need to at least double our water and sewer rates.  Mayor Pugh believes that doubling water and sewer rates would have an unreasonable impact on our residents especially those coping with low or fixed incomes.

All options are still on the table.  We cannot afford to wait years until Belmont County builds their new plant and we don’t have any guarantees that they would be able to fill all our needs if we could wait.  Mayor Pugh has directed me to continue to seek options for state or federal loans and grants that would work for us.  In the meantime, the Administration is continuing to investigate questions that came from the City’s water advisory committee.  I am seeking answers from AQUA, other Ohio communities they serve and from third parties like the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the EPA.  We have asked AQUA if they would consider making changes to their proposal based on council and committee input.  I will update you on our findings at a future meeting and any proposed agreement will be brought to Council for consideration.

I want to announce that the City is publishing a new page on our website.  It will allow anyone in the community to collect facts surrounding our water and wastewater discussions.  They can link to our homepage at stclairsville.com. and look for the link water & sewer facts.  That will be updated every day.

Mayor, Terry Pugh: 

The only thing I have tonight is the Police Report from June.  A copy of the report is available in the Mayor’s office.

Perry Basile:  I want to thank Mr. Zucal and Mayor Pugh for all the hard work and effort they have put forth for this project but I would like to make a motion to stay the negotiations between the City of St. Clairsville and AQUA Ohio.  The basis of my motion is to allow Council sufficient time to look at other options, look at the information we have before us to make rational, reasonable and fiscally responsible decisions for our residents.  We need to slow this process down a little bit take a look at the information we have here and see what our other options are.  I think with this in hand and doing an actual water rate assessment with actual numbers can help us know where we are at and I would like to see that proceed before we get to far into AQUA and have something to balance off of.  We have got to have more than one option.  Beth Oprisch:  I have a question where are we in this process.  We have a bid, we had an executive session on the contents of the bid, we now have a contract and are consulting with an attorney.  The Attorney will look over the contract and it will then come before Council, is that accurate?  Jim Zucal:  That is accurate.  Beth Oprisch:  Where are we with that?  Jim Zucal:  The critical data is being shared by the Attorney’s, we have met with them to share data on our end and they compiled data on theirs and they are meeting to come up with a draft proposal for council.  We are expecting that to take around thirty days.  Thirty days from last Thursday.  Beth Oprisch:  So around September 1st.  Perry in you motion what are you asking?  Perry Basile:  I am asking that we slow this down before we get in any contracts and sit before AQUA and sign papers with them, I would like to see this information taken and we need an alternative to look at still and we have to look at all of our options.  According to this we are talking about making up grades to our water plant.  Let’s sit with the EPA and talk to them about it.  What other options do we have?  We have not seen any other options.  Mike Smith:  I want to ask Jim, simultaneous to the Attorney’s discussing it we are still looking at other options?  Jim Zucal:  I talk to people within the EPA organization every day.  I share that with the Mayor and the group.  I am certainly with these plans no advocating building a water plant I am sharing the facts.  People will ask what would it cost and where did you get your numbers.  I have licensed engineers that are saying that.  I can tell you there is a track record here that dates back to 1984 that this has been talked about. I am by no means trying to push this through, we have been talking about this for two years and we have had public meetings since February and open houses.  We had a written request that was sent throughout the country with no offers.  In the meantime our system crumbles.  We are going to have a web site fact page so by no means no one is pushing this.  We have been doing this step by step along the way.  Beth Oprisch:  The company Erath Link, what do they do?  Jim Zucal:  That Company inquired, I believe they were referred to us by RCAP Rural Water which is out of North Carolina, and they have a Columbus office.  They manage your system.  They don’t own or operate. They made inquiries but they don’t have capital.    The best thing that AQUA is proposing is they have capital.  I would defer to Mr. Myser, I don’t know if you can slow down an administrative function.  Richard Myser:  According to the City Charter City Council takes action either through Resolutions or Ordinances passed.  I have no Resolution or Ordinances tonight regarding whether the progress or any action what so ever on the water system.  This is completely unknown to me Mr. Basil what you wanted to bring up tonight.  Now Council can make motions which are nothing more than recommendations or suggestions either to Council or to the City Administration but we can’t take any official action tonight.  Perry Basile:  can we vote?  Richard Myser:  If that is what you want to do is make an unofficial recommendation you can do that but that would not be an official action tonight.  Beth Oprisch:  This vote has no official baring on anything.  You could have a resolution drawn up.  Jim Velas:  I understand where Perry is coming from but my concern is conversations like we are having happened 25 years ago and they said lets slow down and see what we can do with it and that is what got us into the situation we are in now.  All we can do is try to find a solution that is going to make it better.  You have to be careful that you don’t keep kicking the can down the road.  Perry Basile:  If this has been going on for 30 years what can it hurt to take a small amount of time and instead of privatizing take the things that are screaming at us in our water and sewer and see if we can do those by ourselves.  If we take a look at our income and raise the rates a little bit.  There are specific areas that need attention drastically but.  Mayor Pugh:  The other variable here is the EPA they are not going to stand for us not fixing the water.  The other thing is I want it at a reasonable rate.  We just can’t continue to do nothing.  Frank Sabatino:  The Times Leader had an article last week that there is a nearby community that has undertaken a water project and I believe they replaced 400 feet of waterline for one to two million, quite expensive.  Mayor Pugh:  If I might say one thing, the other variable here is the EPA.  This is all being dictated by the EPA and their regulations and the position we are in right now.  It is true that AQUA is the only company in Ohio that will buy and put money into a water system.

Police Chief, Jeff Henry:   No Report

Finance Director, Cindi Henry:

The state has released our Audit.  I will have copies at the next meeting.

Planning & Zoning Administrator, Tom Murphy:

There will be a Board of Zoning Appeals meeting on Thursday, August 15th at 6:00 p.m.

The first is a variance for 138 Walnut Avenue.  Where they are proposing to build it will be too close to the property line.  They want to construct an addition

The Belmont County Animal Rescue League is requesting a special exception permit located at 273 E. Main Street.  Many of you may remember this as the St. Clair Animal Hospital that was run by Dr. Steed.  If you have any questions feel free to ask me.

COUNCIL COMMITTEES:

Finance, Mike Smith: No Report

Utilities, Frank Sabatino: No Report

Police, Mark Bukmir:  No Report

Street North Side, Jim Velas:

People are happy with the paving

Street South Side, Beth Oprisch:

Happy Pinecrest will be next year

Safety, Jim Velas:   No Report

Building Perry Basile:  No Report

Fire District, Frank Sabatino: 

Next meeting will be August 4th at 3:00 at the Main Station

Recreation, Linda Jordan:   Will be discussing fee increases

Park District, Linda Jordan:  The final movie night will be August 21st.  School back pool will only be open on weekends

Law Director, Richard Myser:

I am going to suggest that we go into executive session per Ohio Revised Code Section 121.22 (G) (3) for conference with Legal Counsel to discuss legal matters.  A motion to go into executive session was made by Mike Smith and seconded by Jim Velas

Roll Call Vote:

Basile              Yes

Bukmir             Yes                              Sabatino                      Yes

Jordan              Yes                              Smith                           Yes

Oprisch            Yes                              Velas                           Yes

Roll Call Vote:  Seven (7) Yes                         Zero (0) No      Motion Approved

A motion to return to regular session was made by Mike Smith and seconded by Beth Oprisch.

Roll Call Vote:

Basile              Yes

Bukmir             Yes                              Sabatino                      Yes

Jordan              Yes                              Smith                           Yes

Oprisch            Yes                              Velas                           Yes

Roll Call Vote:  Seven (7) Yes                         Zero (0) No      Motion Approved

NEW BUSINESS:   Mayor’s Report

The Mayor’s collection for July was $1,975.50.

The Next Council Meeting will be Monday, August 19, 2019 at 7:30 in Council Chambers.

There being no further business to come before Council a motion to adjourn was made by Perry Jones and seconded by Linda Jordan.

Minutes were adopted by Council at its regular meeting on September 3, 2019.


Resolution Number 2019 – 20_Second Reading

RESOLUTION 2019- 20

A RESOLUTION DECLARING THE OFFICIAL INTENT AND

REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF THE CITY OF ST. CLAIRSVILLE,

ON BEHALF OF THE STATE OF OHIO (THE BORROWER)

TO REIMBURSE ITS PERMANENT IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS FUND

FOR THE BELLVIEW SANITARY AND STORM SEWER

SEPARATION PROJECT, OPWC PROJECT NUMBER CR30W,

WITH THE PROCEEDS OF TAX-EXEMPT DEBT OF THE STATE OF OHIO

AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY 

 

            BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OHIO, ON BEHALF OF THE STATE OF OHIO THAT:

Section 1:       The City of St. Clairsville reasonably expects to receive a reimbursement for the Bellview Sanitary and Storm Separation Project as set forth in Appendix A of the Project Agreement with the proceeds of bonds to be issued by the State of Ohio.

Section 2:        The maximum aggregate principle amount of bonds, other than for costs of issuance, expected to be issued by the State of Ohio for reimbursement to the local subdivision is $800,000.00 (Loan Amount).

Section 3:        The Finance Director of the City of St. Clairsville is hereby directed to file a copy of this Resolution with this City for the inspection and examination of all persons interested therein and to deliver a copy of this Resolution to the Ohio Public Works Commission.

Section 4:        The City of St. Clairsville finds and determines that all formal actions of this City concerning and relating to the adoption of this Resolution were taken in an open meeting of this City and that all deliberations of this City and any of its committees that resulted in those formal actions were in meetings open to the public, in compliance with all legal requirements.

Section 5:        This Resolution is declared to be an emergency measure necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and the safety of the residents of the City of St. Clairsville so that the Finance Director may file the appropriate documentation regarding the project with the Ohio Public Works Commission.

Section 6:        That this Resolution shall take effect and be in force from and after the earliest period allowed by the Charter of the City of St. Clairsville, Ohio.

The council of the City of St. Clairsville held a second reading of this legislation on this 3rd day of September, 2019.


Special Council Meeting planned for Wed., August 28 at 7:30 P. M.

CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL EMERGENCY MEETING

The St. Clairsville City Council is holding a special emergency meeting on Wednesday, August 28, 2019, at 7:30 P. M. in the Municipal Building’s Council chamber (100 North Market Street).  This meeting has been called to provide information to Council and the public about the City’s Reservoir and Water Treatment Plant.

Any questions about this public meeting can be directed to the Mayor’s Office by calling 740-695-1324.


Water Service Advisory

 

 PRESS RELEASE

FROM:          CITY OF ST. CLAIRSVILLE

DATE:           AUGUST 23, 2019

SUBJECT:      WATER SERVICE UPDATE

RELEASE:     IMMEDIATE

Effective immediately, the City of St. Clairsville is temporarily using Belmont County water to service our customers.  This may cause temporary discoloration and/or unpleasant odors.  The water is safe to drink.

If questions, please call 740-695-1161.  Thank you.

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Limited Boil Order – S. Marietta Street

PRESS RELEASE

DATE:           AUGUST 14, 2019

FROM:          CITY OF ST. CLAIRSVILLE

SUBJECT:     WATER LINE BREAK/ REPAIR/LIMITED 48-HOUR BOIL ORDER

RELEASE:    IMMEDIATE

The City of St. Clairsville has issued a 48-HOUR BOIL ORDER beginning at 8:00 PM today for drinking water and cooking purposes for residents on the following streets ONLY:

  • Both sides of South Marietta Street from Thompson Drive to Taylor Lane;
  • Thompson Drive;
  • Georgiann Drive;
  • Carroll Drive;
  • Hanson Drive; and
  • Linda Drive.

An unexpected water line break has caused this advisory.  Residents may experience discoloration due to the water line break and repair.  Any other utility customer who may have experienced water loss today in this vicinity also should comply with the boil order.

If you have questions, please call 740-695-1161 or 740-695-1410.  Thank you.

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August 14 2019_PRESS RELEASE_48-Hour BOIL ORDER_Marietta vicinity


8/14/19 Possible Water Line Break – Harbel Drive

As of 4:50pm on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, a possible water line break was reported in the vicinity of 251 Harbel Drive. We are aware of the break, and our crews are working diligently to assess the situation as soon as possible following the S. Marietta Street water line repair.

Check back frequently as the StClairsville.com website will be updated with details as they available.

Harbel Drive Potential Water Line Break Initial Announcement 08142019