Toronto moves on water lines

TORONTO – The city is moving ahead with its water line replacement project, City Council members learned during Monday’s meeting.

The more than $2 million project to replace water lines throughout the city took another step Monday as council members learned bids for the project have been submitted, according to Mayor John Geddis.

“We’ll have a lot of traffic disruptions with this (water line replacement project),” said the mayor, adding while bids have been submitted, no final decisions has been made on the general contractor for the replacement. “We’ve lined up all the financing for the project.”

Geddis said the project is being funded from a variety of sources, including a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission; $150,000 grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission; $600,000 Community Development Block Grant; a $195,000 no-interest loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission; a 2 percent loan from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for $663,000; and OEPA principal forgiveness in the amount of $284,000.

Geddis said he was told it was unusual for a municipality to use several different funding sources for such an ambitious project.

“One lawyer said (the financing) looked like a Rubik’s Cube,” he said.

A letter to council from Triad Engineering Inc. of Athens – the company drawing up specifications for the project – lauded the mayor for securing low-interest loans and grants to finance the project at a minimal cost to city taxpayers.

“This effort will result in new water lines in much of the city with relatively low debt service,” the letter reads. “Many communities do not have a leader who is both knowledgeable and energetic enough to attain a similar funding package.”

Work on the project to replace antiquated water lines is expected to begin sometime this summer.

In other matters:

– Council voted to place a 0.5-mill recreation levy on the Nov. 5 ballot for city voters’ consideration.

“There will be no new taxes,” said Dorothy Blaner, 2nd Ward councilman. “This is just a levy renewal.”

The levy raises about $11,000 annually for city recreation services. Both Geddis and Blaner said at some point the city may propose a recreation replacement levy, but this isn’t the time. Geddis said the levy doesn’t go far enough to cover the city’s recreation services, and much of the city’s recreation funding is from admission to the city’s pool.

– Council voted to participate in the Regional Income Tax Authority’s delinquency program, which includes sending subpoenas to individuals who haven’t filed regional income tax returns.

– Geddis told council the Toronto Fourth of July committee is about $3,000 short in raising funds for this year’s fireworks celebration, set for July 6 at the Toronto High School Stadium. He added any and all donations are welcome, and those wishing to make a donation can stop by the mayor’s office in the City Municipal Building.

– Fourth Ward Councilman John Watts asked the mayor if any progress had been made in the possible demolition of the former Lincoln Elementary School. Geddis said he’d discussed the issue with the Petras family, owners of the property, and said he was told the family still is committed to building an assisted residential facility on the property. He said tearing down the structure could take time as procedures need to be followed to do so.