SALEM Sewer plant upgrade discussed

Council plans to meet tonight to vote on placing a parks levy renewal on the ballot.
SALEM -- The city can expect to get socked with a bill of between $5 million and $6 million to bring its sewer treatment plant up to state standards.
Don Weingart, city utilities superintendent, told city council Tuesday that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has informed the city that work should start on the improvements within the next 20 months.
Utilities officials are gathering details on the work and formulating a more precise cost, Weingart explained.
The plant is operating satisfactorily, but environmental standards for sewer treatment have become more strict, forcing some plants to upgrade, he added.
It's too soon to say whether sewer rates will have to be increased to pay for the improvements, Weingart said.
City council was able to take little official action Wednesday because two members were absent.
Missing were Greg Oesch, R-3rd, and Nancy Cope, R-at large.
Council set a special meeting for 7:30 tonight so that the panel could vote whether to place renewal of a 1-mill, five-year parks levy on the May 7 primary ballot.
If passed, the levy would bring in about $169,612 annually, said Walt Bezeredi, D-4th, chairman of the parks committee.
The levy being considered for renewal expired last year. Collections on it will continue until the end of this year.
It's one of two levies the city relies on to cover the nearly $375,000 annual parks budget.
Work is expected to begin in mid-March on lowering a hill over which East State Street passes in the city's east-side commercial district, said Service Director Joe Julian.
The hill-lowering is part of a nearly $1.2 million project to improve traffic flow and motorists' safety.
The state is putting up about $765,000 for the job. The city will pay the rest.
The work will take about six months.

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