Water rate debate

CRIDERSVILLE — Elected officials in a northern Auglaize County village are talking about potentially raising the water rates on their residents.

Finance Committee and Utilities Committee members met last week and informed Cridersville Village Council members Monday on the status of a possible water rate hike.

“At our joint committee meeting we discussed the future rates for water and the possibility of increasing them,” councilor Paul Lynch, who chairs the Utilities Committee, said. “There was no decision at that time.”

Councilors set a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting for 7 p.m. March 28 to talk about the issue in further detail. This gives the residents an opportunity to express their concerns and offer comments on this topic.

Mayor Lorali Myers said after public input this special meeting will be a working meeting, where councilors will take a thorough look at the issue.

“We are starting to see funds go in the opposite direction,” Myers said. “This is a self funding account, and unfortunately we discovered the account is not keeping up with the cost.

“We want to look at the account and see if it can be better managed and what we need to do,” the mayor said.

The public is encouraged to voice their opinions, as councilors discuss the options regarding this situation during the special meeting.

“The premises of this discussion is that we do not want to make a decision on increasing the rate without taking a thorough look at the cost,” Myers said.

She said she also wants the residents in the village to be informed on this topic and have a chance to voice their opinions.

Councilor Eric West, who chairs the Finance Committee, said another reason for the increase is because the median household pays 1.69 percent of their income toward the water rate.

He said the Ohio Environment Protection Agency (EPA) requires 2.3 percent and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program requires 2.5 percent for the village to qualify for potential grants.

“We don’t qualify for the grants with those rates,” West said.

In addition, the infrastructure will need updating in the coming years.

“If we do nothing, and with the inflation rates, we will have a negative balance in two years,” West said.

The Finance Committee chair said he wants to make sure revenues meet expenses and revenues are where they need to be.

In other business, Village Administrator Jarid Kohlrieser applied for a Ohio Nature Works grant, through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

If awarded, this grant will be used to redo the south lot of the Delong Pioneer Park parking lot. Two years ago, the grant was applied for, and the village was awarded half of the money they requested, and they used this money to fix the the north side of the parking lot at Delong Pioneer Park.

He also found another grant opportunity through the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), and this grant, Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) would help the village with materials for the walking path trails at Delong Pioneer Park if awarded.

In other business, councilors learned:

• The Interstate 75 overpass in Cridersville is currently under construction, as ODOT is rebuilding the overpass and putting in a bridge. The project is scheduled to be completed by November.

• A contract with Duchouquet Township for fire and rescue services was approved Monday, and the contract will go into effect on April 1. This contract will be for $41,737.75, which Cridersville Fire Chief Rick Miller noted this is a slight increase from last year.

• A special Planning and Parks committees is to be held at 6 p.m. March 28, prior to the Committee-of-the-Whole meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Planning and Parks committee are to discuss park grants and ideas. The Committee-of-the-Whole meeting will focus on the water rate situation and potentially increasing the rates.