The improved plant will meet state standards and permit growth.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
COLUMBIANA -- Approval of a $2 million federal grant is all that is needed before sewer plant upgrades can begin.
City Manager Keith Chamberlin hopes construction can begin this year, but the $2 million federal economic development grant is needed to complete financing of the project.
The city has already received a $4.8 million grant and a $7.2 million loan, both from the rural development division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
He said once financing is in place, improvements can begin, either late this year or early in 2003.
Chamberlin said the improvements will increase capacity of the treatment plant, meet Ohio Environmental Protection Agency standards and accommodate growth.
He said Tom Hall of Finkbeiner, Pettis & amp; Strout Inc., consulting engineers of Akron, designed the improvements based on projected 20-year growth of the city.
The city will repay loans through revenue from tap-in fees and sewer rates. City council is also considering charging an additional fee for new development, known as an impact fee.
Chamberlin said an impact fee would be in addition to tap-in fees. Council has been discussing implementing impact fees for some time.
Law Director Daniel Blasdell has said, however, that establishing impact fees requires extensive study. He recommended council hire an engineering firm that has experience in writing impact fee studies.
Any customer who has an impact fee imposed can challenge it in court, and the city would then have to prove in court that the fee is justified based on the impact the customer will have on the water or sewer systems.
The better the impact fee study, the better chance the city would have to prove the need for the fee, he said.
Chamberlin said Finkbeiner, Pettis & amp; Strout are preparing an impact fee study, and council is considering other engineering firms to do the work.