County commissioners are likely to be angered by the move.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM — City council split — loudly — but approved legislation to sell water to any new customers off its unused waterline to the federal prison in Elkton.
The move is bound to anger the Columbiana County commissioners who claim they own the line, and the Buckeye Water District that claims it has agreements to provide water to some subdivisions in the center of the county.
Council members Mary Lou Popa, Steven Andres, Gregory Oesch and Walt Bezeredi voted to pass the legislation.
Council members Earl A. Schory II, Justin Palmer and Clyde Brown voted against the move.
Palmer, the head of council’s economic development committee, said the utilities commission will be able to act without the approval of council in acquiring new customers.
Palmer said of the county-city dispute, “There are so many legal issues. It’s a problem.”
Schory, an attorney, said the legislation allows the utilities commission to sidestep council.
But Oesch said it was a shame that none of the three councilmen came to the utilities committee earlier in the day where the plan was discussed
When the prison was built years ago, federal officials chose to work with one body — the commissioners.
When the first agreement expired recently, the city planned to sell directly to the prison. But the commissioners claimed they own the line.
Federal officials awarded the new contract to the commissioners, who buy water for the prison from the Buckeye district in Wellsville.
Buckeye has said it has agreements to provide water to some townships in the center.
And county Engineer Bert Dawson has said the county has jurisdiction over water districts in unincorporated areas.
City disputes jurisdiction
But Geoffrey Goll, the chairman of the utilities commission, said the city has the easements to the now unused line and no one can go on the properties except Salem workers.
The commissioners and Buckeye officials have offered to meet with the utilities commission to try to resolve the dispute.
The county wants water off the prison line to go to county facilities and for economic development in Center Township.
Salem had earlier agreed to sell water to Leetonia in an emergency. Council unanimously approved extending a city line that runs to Washingtonville to Leetonia for about $1 million.
Selling water to Leetonia will help the city recover some of the funds it lost when the contract went to Buckeye. “We’re very pleased,” Goll said.
He estimated the village would only use about 100,000 to 150,000 gallons of water a day.
Goll said the city had the cheapest rates for any city similar in size in Ohio. Salem users pay about $3.25 per 1,000 gallons of water.