County may buy water from Mingo

MINGO JUNCTION – Village Council heard from two Jefferson County commissioners Tuesday about the county’s interests in purchasing water from the village.

Commissioners Thomas Graham and Tom Gentile asked council to prepare costs figures for the purchase of water to serve county water customers in the Sunshine Park area.

Graham said Steubenville has increased its rate for bulk water purchased by the county. Steubenville initially said the rate would by increased to $3.08 per 1,000 gallons of water. The county buys about 2.5 million gallons of water a month from the city. The city said it would lower the increase to $2.46 per 1,000 gallons of water, a 38 percent increase over the former amount, Graham said.

Graham and Gentile said the county is studying cost-effective alternatives to the Steubenville water rate increase.

Graham said the county can use the Mingo Junction water to fill water lines but not the county tank. He said a quarter of a mile water line would need to be installed and possibly a pumping station to fill the county tank.

Graham said Toronto would provide water to serve the Wintersville area, which is currently being supplied by Steubenville.

“If this helps Mingo Junction out, hopefully it will help the county out,” Graham said.

Village Councilman James Morrocco asked Graham if the county was just using Mingo Junction as a “scare tactic” to get Steubenville to negotiate a lower bulk-water rate.

Graham said the county wants to make the connection to Mingo Junction anyway to help supply the county system in the event of a problem with Steubenville’s water production.

“From a safety point of view, we would be able to flow water back and forth (with the county connection to the Mingo Junction system),” Gentile said.

Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to begin working on a rate and then discuss the rate as a pending contract negotiation in executive session at a later date with the county commissioners.

Village Solicitor Ernest Wilson said Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge David Henderson has filed a formal opinion siding with the village on a request by G&M Family Partnership of Wintersville to force the village to vacate part of Elizabeth Street, all of Susanna Street and an unnamed alley.

Henderson held a hearing in February during which he verbally said he wasn’t going to order the streets to be vacated because it would only benefit G&M Family Partnership.

G&M Family Partnership owns 9 acres of land in the south end of the village and wanted the streets vacated to create a complete tract of land for development. The streets only exist on paper and haven’t been maintained in decades.

Council also agreed to place a levy on the November ballot for fire and emergency medical services at the request of Fire Chief John Wright. Council and Wright will have to make a determination of the levy rate prior to the filing deadline of Aug. 6.

Council also agreed to allow CT Consultants, the village’s engineering firm, to file an amended schedule of when sewer and storm water sewers will be separated as mandated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Village Administrator Steve Maguschak said the original schedule filed with the Ohio EPA had about $18 million in sewer separation projects completed by the end of this year. He said CT Consultants split the projects into smaller jobs at around $500,000 to $1 million, with the final project completed in 2044.

“It makes it more feasible to stretch it out until 2044,” Maguschak said.

The Ohio EPA will still have to approve the proposed schedule.

Mayor John Fabian said he would be “highly upset” if the Ohio EPA doesn’t accept the village’s proposal. He said the village is currently in the process of a $2.4 million sewer separation project on Lincoln Avenue, which resulted in village residents paying $6 more a month on their sewer bills.

Council also approved an ordinance revising the distribution of the 2 percent income tax. The village stopped collecting 0.025 percent for the community complex fund, which created an accounting problem in getting the percentage distributions to work out correctly. Under the revised distribution, the general fund will get a slight increase in money received from the income tax.

Council also announced winter holiday decorations at the cemetery have to be removed by April 15.