COLUMBIANA Grants to fund sewage plant

Fees would be assessed on new developments.
COLUMBIANA -- The city will pay for $6.8 million of a $12 million sewage treatment plant with grants.
City Manager Keith Chamberlin told city council Tuesday the city will receive $4.8 million from the Rural Development Corporation and $2 million from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The city needs to build a new treatment plant to both replace an outdated facility and increase capacity to meet growth demands, Chamberlin said.
Council members discussed increasing tap-in fees and establishing impact fees to help pay for the new plant and its operation.
Councilman Don Leonard said he favors impact fees because developers of new residential or industrial construction should pay part of the cost of the new plant since the new plant is needed due to growth.
Leonard and other council members said they want developers of new business and industry to help pay for the sewer plant. That could happen by raising tap-in fees, but council members said they don't want to increase tap-in fees for those already in the city but who have septic systems.
City Law Director Dan Blasdell cautioned that although the council could take such action, new residents and business owners would likely challenge the ordinance in court. They would argue that all should pay equally, he said.
On a related matter, council heard from Bittersweet Drive residents who are receiving letters regarding assessment for the sewer line planned there.
Chamberlin said there will be an appeals process for residents who want to challenge the assessment.
He said he could not give an estimated date for construction of the sewer line to begin because he cannot advertise for bids until after the appeals process ends.
Chamberlin said an appeals board made up of city residents will hear from all who challenge the assessments.
If the appeals board makes major changes, then the assessments would be recalculated and the new assessments could also be challenged.
Residents will receive a final assessment once the project is completed, Chamberlin said. Construction should take about two months, he added.

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