Lalich proposes flat water fee

STEUBENVILLE – Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich proposed implementing a $5.50 monthly flat fee for all city water customers Tuesday night and immediately generated a conversation regarding replacing water line infrastructure in the community.

“Last evening we had another water line break on Aberdeen Road. It is the 10th water line break on Aberdeen Road this year. We all have water line breaks in our wards and we need to do something about our aging water distribution infrastructure. I am proposing a $5.50 flat fee for all water customers as a way to build up a fund to replace water lines throughout the city,” Lalich said.

Lalich estimated the flat fee would bring in $480,000 annually.

“I talked to our Water Superintendent Mike Wigal who said we can look at all of our water infrastructure and decide the order of replacing the lines,” added Lalich.

“If we collect $5.50 a month and put it in a special fund we can start replacing our infrastructure,” said Lalich.

He also quoted Franciscan University of Steubenville President Rev. Sean O. Sheridan, “who said every institution has to have a vision and a mission. Our mission is our infrastructure and the vision must come from the city council to replace our infrastructure.”

Mayor Domenick Mucci along with 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf and 4th Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs asked for a delay until a study by the Rural Community Assistance Program is completed.

“I expect the study to be finished within the next two to four weeks. But I will ask the RCAP representative to attend our Nov. 12 sunshine meeting to discuss the flat fee proposal as well as our study and where it stands at this point,” said Mucci.

“I think we should get a number on a $10 million loan for 20 years. The flat fee could be used to pay that loan back and we could use the loan to immediately start replacing the water line infrastructure. That is something we can explain to our residents,” stated 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins.

“I just want everyone to pay their water bills. We have a lot of Section 8 housing in the city where the money goes to the landlord who doesn’t pay the water bill. Everyone has to pay their water bills, not just the middle class,” remarked 1st Ward Councilman Gerald DiLoreto.

“We can also go after state and federal grants to help this program,” suggested Metcalf.

Mucci announced a utility committee meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 12 to discuss the RCAP study, and at 6:30 p.m. the committee will discuss proposed legislation authorizing the acting city manager to advertise for bids for professional engineering services for future water and wastewater projects.

Suggs reminded city residents the city-sponsored Halloween party will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

Council met for an hour-long executive session prior to the sunshine meeting to discuss current contract negotiations with the International Association of Firefighters Local 228.

No legislation was introduced during the sunshine meeting, so council will consider third and final readings Tuesday for an ordinance to apply for a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the Buena Vista Boulevard water line upgrade project and an ordinance approving expenditures without a purchase order over $3,000.

A second reading is set for Tuesday authorizing the acting city manager to advertise for bids for supplies for the city’s service department for 2014.