Committee focuses on growing park fund

With $13 million spent in the past few years to replace the city’s electrical system, including three substations, Wapakoneta city officials want to rebuild the fund for possible expansion in the new industrial park.
In the past three years, three substations — Middle Street, Harrison Street and Defiance Street — along with poles and transformers throughout the city have been replaced as the city upgrades its electrical system.
Wapakoneta Mayor Rodney Metz and Wapakoneta Councilor-at-large Wilbur Wells shared the same opinion that they want money placed in reserve for expansion of the system should a manufacturer or manufacturers locate in the West Central Ohio Industrial Center.
“I don’t think any new projects will effect the Electric Fund in 2012 with most everything paid for in 2011, so I am hoping the Electric Fund will start to replenish the Electric Expansion account for the next expansion when that occurs,” said Wells, who chairs the Finance Committee. “Those will be the only two funds affected should a new industry locate in the park since water, wastewater and storm sewer lines have been extended to the land.”
Wells said the Defiance Street Substation should be completed in January or February with line work and pole work done in the spring.
Each substation cost between $3 million and $4 million to replace.
The Electric Expansion Fund has $4.1 million currently. A new substation would deplete the fund.
The Electric Fund has been set at $19.36 million, with $15 million set for the purchase of wholesale power and a $4 million carryover.
Metz echoed the economic philosophy.
“We want to rebuild the Electric Expansion Fund back up, but we want to start accumulating money to help at the new industrial park,” Metz said after Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting. “Chances are there will be major expenses at the industrial park if there are new industries coming.”
He explained there will be some additional funds coming into the Electrical Expansion Fund as they sell the substation equipment replaced during the recent reconstruction. The city spent approximately $13 million to replace the substations and a few million to replace transformers and poles.
The level of infrastructure for the park is contingent upon the size and number of businesses locating in the industrial park.
“The amount of work to eventually be done at the industrial park depends on the industry that comes to Wapakoneta, but we would be looking primarily at installing a new substation,” Metz said. “We also may be looking at installing substations, plural, and at a different connection point to the main AEP (American Electric Power) and perhaps even a new feeder line for the city if the industry requires a higher voltage service.”
The 471-acre industrial park is a Job Ready Sites state-certified site and should receive some state funds should a large employer locate a plant in the park.
Finance Committee members also reviewed the Refuse Fund and Landfill Closure Fund. They intend to revisit those funds after a Utilities Committee meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, if Utilities Committee members decide a hike is needed to cover costs regarding refuse.
The next Finance Committee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.