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GIRARD Refused funding, city looks to lawmaker

By Tim Yovich

Saturday, January 18, 2003

If Girard were to charge a higher sewer rate, it would qualify for state grants.
GIRARD -- It will be a long time before Girard is eligible for state Issue 2 funding for either sanitary sewer or water projects.
"This will be a continual problem for them," said James Wells, director of special projects at the Eastgate Council of Governments.
Mayor James J. Melfi said he has scheduled a Friday meeting with state Sen. Marc Dann, D-32nd, to determine if the legislator can intervene so the city can regain its eligibility for sanitary sewer and water project funding. The city had applied for partial funding of two projects totaling $414,100.
Wells said the two applications were rejected because of the manner in which eligibility is calculated.
Rex Funge, assistant city engineer/zoning inspector, said the city applied for $241,500 to help pay for a system to monitor the amount of untreated sewage and storm water flowing into Little Squaw Creek during heavy rain.
An additional $172,600 was being sought to upgrade the sewage treatment plant, Funge said.
The city's median household income based on the 2000 census is $32,672, compared with the state median income of $40,956, Wells said.
He explained each household spends $407 annually to treat 93,000 gallons of sanitary sewage per year.
Wells said that based on the Ohio Public Works Commission formula, Girard households aren't paying enough for sewage treatment, making the city ineligible for the Issue 2 funding.
The formula dictates each household should be paying $490 annually rather than $407, Wells explained.
"So we're not ripping the hell out of our residents," Melfi said, noting the state wants the city to increase sewer rates to qualify for grants.
City is alone
Wells said Girard is the only city in the region that doesn't qualify for Issue 2 funds for sanitary and water projects.
The city can apply, however, for other projects such as road and storm sewer improvements.
The city, Wells said, also is eligible for state loans but probably isn't interested because of its financial problems brought about by too much debt.