STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County commissioners Thursday said they don't want the money owed by Smithfield for its water bill to the county to keep growing now that Smithfield's council voted to turn the system over to the county.
The county had proposed taking over the system and forgiving $150,000 owed to the county. Smithfield Village Council voted Tuesday to move ahead with the plan.
County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the county expects the village to keep paying on its bill until the takeover is finalized. Shannan Gosbin, county sanitary engineer, said the county will continue sending the village bills for water purchased until the deal is finalized.
Gentile said the county will make improvements to Smithfield's water system. He said the county will now be able to expand the water system in the south end of the county.
County Commissioner Thomas Graham said there is no truth to statements made by Smithfield Councilwoman Patricia Freeland that the county will now sell the water system to a private company.
Commissioners, in a related matter, agreed to advertise for bids for a new pumping station and new water transmission lines out of the Brilliant water plant that serves the south end of the county.
Gosbin said a new pumping station will be built and 24,000 feet of 10-inch water lines will be installed. The estimated cost of the project is $4.2 million. The county has obtained a low-interest loan through the state for the project.
County Commissioner David Maple said he was pleased the county's water and sewer department was moving the project forward.
Gentile said the current pumps are working over capacity, especially with water breaks in Smithfield.
Commissioners received an estimate for installing sewer lines to serve four homes off Bantam Ridge Road outside Wintersville. Gosbin said the project will cost $80,000, with the four homeowners each paying $20,000. The homes were left out of the Bantam Ridge Road sewer project a couple of decades ago. Commissioners said they had no idea why the homes were left out of the project.
If the project is financed, the homeowners will pay an additional $200 a month on their sewer bill.
In other matters, commissioners were informed of a savings in telephone bills through AT&T. The county switched the majority of its telephones lines to Comcast. But seven lines at the sheriff's department that are recorded must stay with AT&T because of federal regulations. There are three lines at the County Services Complex that are still with AT&T because the telephone exchange is for the Steubenville area and not Wintersville, where the complex is located.
World Radio Telecommunications negotiated a rate for the lines that will save the county $9,361 during a 36-month period.
Commissioners agreed to provide the Jefferson County Drug Task Force with $4,665 to pay taxes owed on two houses that were seized as part of a drug investigation. The houses were auctioned, with proceeds totaling about $145,000. But during the closing it was determined the drug task force owes two years of real estate taxes.
Jason Hanlin of the drug task force asked the money for the taxes be taken out of the task force's forfeiture account, which is controlled by the county. "It was a two-year, complicated sale," Hanlin said.
Hanlin announced there will be an auction for 10 vehicles seized during drug investigations.
Commissioners also heard from a Pottery Addition resident about an alley that is being blocked by a business. Victor Lynskey Jr. of 45 Barbara St. said the alley is on the maps but an adjacent property was purchased and the new owner is blocking access. The alley isn't paved.
County Engineer James Branagan said the alley wasn't vacated by the county but his department will research the matter. He said the county's surveyor also will mark where the alley is located. Commissioners said they will ask the procuctor's office to write a letter to the person blocking the alley informing him of any violations.
Commissioners were informed of the appointment of William T. Kerr of Wintersville to the Jefferson County Developmental Disabilities Board. The appointment was made by Probate Judge Sam Kerr.
Commissioners opened two bids on behalf of the county engineer's department for the rehabilitation of a bridge on Springfield Township Road 278. The engineer's estimate was $52,660. Ohio-West Virginia Excavating of Powhattan Point submitted the apparent low bid of $54,215.