By JIM MAURER
Property owners in the New Riegel Sewer District will see about a 30 percent increase in quarterly bills, beginning next month, as increased expenses and lower revenues have forced Seneca County to raise rates.
The Seneca County commissioners will consider a resolution soon to increase rates from about $205 per quarter, per unit, to about $314 per quarter, per unit, according to county Engineer Mark Zimmerman.
Payments are made based on use. Businesses, commercial and industrial users generally pay for more units than residential users.
March sewer district bills are expected to include the increase. The bills will cover January through March usage.
Zimmerman said the sewer bill collection was about $155,000 in 2013, while $160,000 was projected. Expenses were $220,000 to $240,000, including $60,000 for debt payment and $75,000 to Fostoria for wastewater treatment.
The expenses also include a chemical feed system, installed to make the system operate more efficiently, which represents a $20,000 annual expense, Zimmerman said. An additional $20,000 for pump station repairs will be necessary in the next few years, too.
There is a 40-year debt repayment, including about a $1 million loan the county received to purchase the sewer system from New Riegel. The village was unable to make payments after Farmland Foods, which would have funded about 60 percent of the debt, closed its meat plant.
Separately, Commissioner Fred Zoeller said Fostoria will receive a “Moving Ohio Forward” grant of $280,000, with $245,000 available for housing demolition in Fostoria. The remainder of the grant is for administrative fees, he said.
Separately, a countywide meeting about emergency medical service has been tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. March 29 in the Public Safety Building. If there is bad weather, the meeting will be held April 5 at the same location. Township, village and city representatives will be invited, along with mayors from Fostoria and Tiffin and the county coordinators.
Ken Majors, county director of emergency medical service, is expected to prepare an outline of issues for discussion.
During a recent meeting with the commissioners, Majors proposed a pay system for volunteers, similar to what Hopewell Township has for fire and emergency medical service housed in Bascom.
Nothing has been decided. Majors and the commissioners have been meeting with townships and villages to discuss the issue.
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