MINGO JUNCTION - Village Council on Tuesday discussed water and sewer projects and questioned why the village's electric bill hasn't decreased with half of the streetlights scheduled to be turned off.
Village Administrator Steve Maguschak said the village's last electric bill from AEP totaled $22,000 for all electric service at village buildings, including streetlights. He said the village shouldn't be billed for half of the streetlights that were supposed to be turned off.
Council more than a year ago voted to turn off about 300 of the villages's 600 streetlights as a cost-saving measure. AEP has been working to cap the lights so they don't turn on. The village only was to pay for six months of the cost of the streetlights that were submitted into AEP to be turned off. That time has passed and the village isn't seeing a decrease in its electric bill.
Village Solicitor Ernest Wilson said AEP should be contacted about why the village isn't seeing a decrease in its bill.
Councilman Adam Peeler said he recently met with an AEP representative, who said the village's final list of streetlights to be turned off is actually around 210, with 90 more lights to be turned off to reach the 300 amount.
Maguschak said less than one-third of the streetlights the village told AEP to turn off have actually been disconnected. He said the village shouldn't be getting a bill for the streetlights AEP hasn't turned off.
Councilmembers said they are concerned about public reaction once all the streetlights are turned off, plus the additional lights AEP said should be disconnected.
Councilman James Morrocco said he is against the additional streetlights being turned off. He said AEP will remove a utility pole if there is only a streetlight on it, and he said it will be impossible for the village to pay to have the poles reinstalled once the poles are removed.
Maguschak also announced the approval of an Ohio Public Works Commission emergency grant for the replacement of the water line on the Lincoln Avenue bridge over state Route 7. There was a leak in the line a couple months ago and a temporary fix was made.
Maguschak said the village will receive $41,000 for the project, with the village's share being about $4,000. He said he is trying to coordinate the work with the Ohio Department of Transportation during the current lane closures for bridge work on state Route 7.
The Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association prepared the grant application for the village.
Maguschak said there has been no cause found for a large water loss in the south end of the village. The Deandale water tank is running low on a daily basis. Maguschak said the village was filling the tank once every three days but has to fill the 450,000 gallon tank daily. He said a leak detection company was not successful in pinpointing any leak.
Maguschak said the Lincoln Avenue sewer separation project is progressing but the construction company is hitting a lot of rocks in digging for the new lines. He said the rocks were expected.
Council also discussed contacting the Jefferson County commissioners about the village's willingness to provide water now that the county and Steubenville are in discussions over a proposed water rate hike by Steubenville for bulk water.
Commissioners were informed in February the city is increasing its bulk water rate by $1.30 per 1,000 gallons of water. The county buys about 2.5 million gallons of water a month from the city.
Peeler said the village wants the county to know that Mingo Junction is an option for supplying water.
"We are willing to play ball," Peeler said.
Maguschak said he doesn't know if the size of existing connections between the village and the county are large enough to supply the amount of water the county needs.
Mayor John Fabian signed a proclamation declaring March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in the village at the request of Michael Mehalik, county Developmental Disabilities program superintendent.
Council also declared April as Fair Housing Awareness Month at the request of the county regional planning commission.