Champion trustees object to arbitrary method of raising sewer bills
By Ed Runyan
Rex Fee, former executive director of the Trumbull County Sanitary Engineer’s Office and now a Champion Township trustee, said the increase county sewer customers will have to pay Warren is “a slap in the face.”
Champion is among the communities in the county’s sewage system that are expected to absorb the cost of the increase, which was negotiated after Warren filed a civil suit in common pleas court against the county.
The county operates sewer lines in various parts of the county and operates several wastewater treatment plants. But Warren treats waste from two areas of the county’s wastewater system – Champion and part of Lordstown.
Fee says under the 20-year contract in place between Warren and the county until the end of 2017, the county paid its fair share of the city’s cost to operate its treatment plant and maintain some of its sewer lines.
But the new agreement looks at it differently, charging the county a percentage of the rate Warren customers pay. The county was paying 30 percent of the Warren rate ($1.42 per thousand gallons) and now will pay 75 percent ($3.47).
Fee and fellow Champion Trustee Doug Emerine told reporters Monday at the township hall they object because the new rate is not based on the actual cost to treat the county’s wastewater.
Fee says he doesn’t know what the basis is for this increase because it seems like an arbitrary number.
County Sanitary Engineer Randy Smith delivered a memo to the commissioners March 22 proposing that Warren’s increased costs be implemented among customers of the county’s Metropolitan Sewer District, starting with a big increase in June and then smaller ones each year through June 2022.
The sewer district communities are Champion, Hubbard, Kinsman, Brookfield and Liberty townships, part of Lordstown, most of Vienna, some of Weathersfield and the Bolindale area of Howland.
But in addition to the cost increase from Warren, the new rate would reflect other issues – the cost to upgrade the county’s Brookfield wastewater plant and the loss of revenue from the idling of the GM Lordstown Assembly Complex, for instance.
An average county wastewater treatment bill of about $35.30 per month would rise to about $66.25 per month by June 2022, based on Vindicator calculations.
Smith also mentioned other options, such as passing on the increased costs to all the county’s wastewater customers, including customers in Warren Township and most of Howland.
Another option would be for the county to build additional treatment facilities in order to avoid having to pay Warren, Smith said.