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Austintown to city: Justify water-rate hike

Published: Wed, February 17, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Elise Franco

AUSTINTOWN — Township trustees want justification for a Youngstown water-rate increase that raised Austintown residents’ rates about $2.72 per month.

Trustee Lisa Oles said the township was told by city officials that the increase, which went into effect Feb. 1, was to raise money to replace water infrastructure.

She said that township residents pay a 40 percent surcharge for their water supply.

“It was always our understanding that surcharge was being paid to maintain and replace, as needed, the water infrastructure,” Oles said. “If the city is proposing this increase based on the reasoning that they want to replace the waterlines, we want to know what they’ve been doing with our surcharges all these years.”

Youngstown officials announced Dec. 31 that its residential and commercial customers would see an 8.75 percent increase in water rates over the next five years to cover the cost of the city’s capital-improvement plan, which includes various waterline-replacement projects, a water-tank replacement, new meters, major valve replacements and more totaling more than $33 million.

Youngstown supplies water to large parts of Austintown, Boardman and Canfield townships.

Austintown Township Administrator Mike Dockry said he drafted a letter requesting from Youngstown:

UInformation that provides reasons or justification for the water-rate hike.

UInformation about any strategic plan to replace, repair or maintain water infrastructure.

UAn explanation of expenditures for the past three years of surcharge revenue from noncity customers.

UDetails on all grants applied for in the past three years for replacement, repair or maintenance of water-system infrastructure.

Dockry said the letter will be postmarked and also faxed to the city today. The letter also is going to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Oles said township officials want to know why raising water rates seems to be the city’s only option.

“We want to know if the city has exhausted all of their opportunities to apply for any grants available before they come to the consumers and expect us to pay,” she said.

Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams said he didn’t want to respond to the letter Tuesday.

“I haven’t seen the letter,” he said. “If and when we receive the letter we will respond appropriately.”

Williams said the city will do its best to answer any and all questions Austintown officials have.

Canfield Trustee Marie Cartwright and Boardman Administrator Jason Loree said their respective townships weren’t involved in writing the letter, but they are aware of the increase.

Loree said he hasn’t had any complaints from residents, but he wouldn’t be surprised if the calls come is as water bills begin to.

Oles said the point of Austintown’s request to Youngstown is to make sure the city is using money for its intended purpose.

“We want to make sure this is not another attempt to raise funds for the city, if the purpose is not going toward changing the water infrastructure like they’re saying,” she said. “The people in the suburbs shouldn’t have to contribute to the city’s general fund. We want to make sure we benefit from what we’re paying for.”

Loree said he understands infrastructure maintenance and replacement are important, but they actually need to happen.

“I hope their plans have been well thought out and [extra] costs don’t end up on the backs of those outside the municipality,” he said.

Oles said she hopes the ABC Water District, which is designed to provide Austintown, Boardman and Canfield with a way to address storm water or flooding concerns, could become a possible alternative for township residents who don’t want to pay Youngstown’s high rates.

“If the increase in their water rates are going to be extremely high and unaffordable, maybe it’s time the water district takes a look at starting to provide the services Youngstown currently provides to our residents,” she said.

The districts’ representatives are scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Boardman Government Center. Oles said she would like to see this issue brought up at that meeting.

“I hope whether our district can start providing the residents with the same services Youngstown is providing is something they consider and discuss seriously,” she said. “We have a lot of people on fixed incomes in Austintown, so we’re trying to keep the cost down.”



1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Youngstown's Mayor Jay is using water rate increase to fund the enterprise side of the city revenue base to keep all their non-productive city employees working. This is revenue raisng at it's worst. Can't wait for the ABC to be reality and Youngstown told to go pound salt when it comes to supplying water.

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2Millie(192 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

At least the Austintown Trustees are working to assist their residents when Youngstown looks to find money in their taxpayers pockets. It s time for some tea bags to go with that water.

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3RamIt(11 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Being an Austintown resident, I want nothing to do with annexation by a dead city. Just because the are in bad shape doesn't mean I should have to fund them because I pay my bills and taxes. I hope that the ABC does become a reality and we don't have to deal with Jay Williams money making schemes anymore. At least Austintown has the gumption to stand up to them penalizing us and do somethign about it. I'm sure if this went up to a vote, it would pass by a landslide.

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4HereToServe(39 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Youngstown should annex Austintown at this point. It will bring a more regionalized effort and that will present more funding opportunities from the federal and state governments.
If the Austintown Trustees would have talked with the city about the JEDDS this would not have happened.
Call your Austintown Trustees and ask them why they are so close minded.

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5PHISHIE(105 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Canfield too buys Youngstown water. Does anyone drink Youngstown water????? YUK!!!! Even though I have to pay for Youngstown water, I still buy drinking water........does anyone drink Youngstown water???? PHISHIE

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6AtownParent(565 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I agree Slim. Ytown raised the townships water when the trustees told him to shove his JEDDs. Jay knows better than to annex Atown, then they would become voters and he couldn't hold onto that Mayor position he so loves.

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7dd933(299 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Jay will be term limited out after this term...but the next Y-town mayor will be forced to see the same reality he sees. The fact is that if we want to survive as a region we must start working together. We can do it by negotiating like Youngstown & Girard did in the V & M project or like they do it in Columbus. (annexation)

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8DirtForce_1(40 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Lombardo quotes:

".....small, stupid township."

".....One can always tell who the intellectually-ignorant people are on this board."

How true your last comment is as it pertains directly to you...you keep insulting people on here hiding behind your computer.....can't you provide your input and all your statistical information without insulting someone? Anyone from Austintown take offense to this? I'm sure Lombardo lives in a perfect community with zero problems......maybe except for him. J.O.

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9RamIt(11 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I agree. He knows he wouldn't last long in office if we had a say. As for the pro-annexation people here, I gre wup in McDonald and our water bill was nothing compared to what I have now and we had a family of 5 in the house. Our water came from MVSD just as everyone elses in the area. As for being the intellectually ignorant person here, there are grants and other funding options available so the total burden wouldn't rest on the population. Maybe if the Youngstown water dept and city would do that for the supposed upgrades instead of a trip to Isreal, we wouldn't be in this situation. I also wouldn't mind Austintown becoming a city and paying an income tax. I think you would find many people that would agree with me as well. I like my home value, the decent school district, the nice neighborhood I live in where there is no crime and I think most people would agree. I hope that the Austintown trustees continue to fight for the people as that is what they were elected to do. You see close minded people, but I see people that won't just lay down and take it from a city looking for funding. I wish there were more people in office that had their attitudes.

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10NoBS(2390 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Kudos to Austintown's leaders for questioning this latest attempt to redistribute the suburbs' money to the city.

Boardman trustees - what are you guys - asleep at the switch?

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11PHISHIE(105 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Currently, I purchase bottled water. Does anyone drink Youngstown city water??? However, I am pricing reverse osmosis systems. It is silly to need to buy drinking water and pay for water, but what is one to do.........PHISHIE

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12PHISHIE(105 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

It just tastes bad. If something tastes bad, it usually indicates that it is not very good quality. I tried the reverse osmosis water it is very good tasting. The problem is paying Youngstown for water, than paying for quality tasting water. What is one to do???? PHISHIE

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13swinfluoverthecukosnest(13 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I love the retoric Lombardo. You must work for the city. I have had the idea for quite a few years now that Youngstown should be divided up and annexed to the respective burbs. If Youngstown was a strong and vibrant city that would be different. They might have something to offer by annexing the burbs. Right now they would just pull the only remaining thriving areas down.
I have listened to the Mayor at various times including on C-Span when he went to DC. He is an intelligent person and has many good things to say but fleecing the outlying areas for even more money when the are already collecting a large surcharge is outrageous. And I applaud Austintown for standing up for their rights.

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14swinfluoverthecukosnest(13 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I currently reside in another larger city in OH. Youngstown water tastes much better than my current water. You need to try other areas before you make that decision.

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15PHISHIE(105 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

It is best not to drink any water out of the spigot. Who knows where it comes from??? I think reverse osmosis takes all impurities out of water. Does anyone know??? I would never drink water from any spigot, That is unless I was desperate.

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16AtownParent(565 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Lombardo must be one of those 10 city water workers that all show up to watch the one guy do the job. He sure is getting pretty defensive about the whole water thing.

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17RamIt(11 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Wow. You are a real piece of work aren't you? Let me guess, next you'll say that all woman should be pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen. If the citizens of an outlying township are paying extra for something, it is the trustees job to investigate it. That is why we elected them. They are supposed to represent the people, not their own interests. Fortunately, they have the backbone to do it.

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18mikeymike(469 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

lombardo why all of the hate toward Austintown ? I grew up in Austintown and graduated from Fitch,it's a great community, far better than any part of Youngstown.I think you have some serious issues,seek help now before you have a stroke,or worse.Your comment about Oles was ignorant and uncalled for.

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19AtownParent(565 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

It is not a city, why would residents in Austintown, Boardman, Canfield Twnshp, Poland, etc. pay a CITY income tax when it is not a city? We pay taxes in the form of levies to our townships for its services. If you don't like paying the income tax, then move to a township and vote for a levy and pay for it that way.

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20typical(9 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't you all CHOOSE to live in Austintown. I know I sure did...even knowing all the "extras" that would go along with that - INCLUDING a higher water bill. It takes MONEY to run a water facility. Improvements must be made constantly. I would still rather live in Austintown and have Meander Water for our drinking water than Aqua Water. Its disgusting! I elected our township officials to look after our township, not to babysit Jay Williams and the Water Department. They have more important things to do in Austintown than worry about Youngstown Water. I for one will NEVER sit still and let the ABC bring in Aqua Water.

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21Silence_Dogood(1558 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Trustee Lisa Oles is on to something and I don't think she is going to let go of this issue. It would seem that she has become aware of the fact that the City of Youngstown is using the revenue from the Water and Wastewater departments to buy things that are being used for the General fund area. Seeing as these sources of money are public utilities the Federal Government has a say in how these monies are to be spent, and one thing is for sure these Departments are not suppose to be buying things like TRUCKS FOR THE STREET DEPARTMENT, OR CARS FOR THE POLICE DEPARTMENT, or any other general fund expenditure, doing so would be ILLEGAL and the residents of Austintown would be able to show cause for harm by the City against the residents of Austintown that recieve water fron Youngstown. I believe we are watching a staring contest between Jay Williams and Lisa Oles, and I will put my money on Lisa Oles and wait for Jay Williams to blink first.

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