ATTICA - Village council met Thursday night had some tense moments as Councilman George Yakoubian and Fiscal Officer Pat Krebs responded to letters that recently appeared in the Attica Hub regarding the village's proposal for a new wastewater treatment plant and handling of village funds.
During the last meeting, newly elected Councilman Kirk Stanfield asked by what authority the village can set rates and collect sewer and water fees. Letters from Stanfield and a group called CRAWL - Citizens Reforming Attica Water Laws - have ran in the Attica Hub following that meeting that discuss the maintenance of the existing plant and the rates set for funding the anticipated plant construction, which has been mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Yakoubian distributed information on the difference between a law and an ordinance. Laws are rules and guidelines set up by government officials to govern behavior. Ordinances are laws passed by smaller entities such as villages and are given that authority by statute and state constitution. He said Ohio Revised Code statute 743.04 gives the village the authority to assess and collect water fees. Statute 743.05 states that after payment of expenses of managing the water works, any surplus may be applied to the repairs, enlargement or extension of the works or reservoirs, the payment of interest of a loan for the construction or for the creation of a fund for the liquidation of the debt.
"We offer water/sewer as a municipal service and have the authority to charge as we have for 100 years," Yakoubian said. "With the federal EPA regulating water and sewer systems, we have to be in compliance. I take offense that the letter states we do not operate our services properly."
"The financial information I give council members is to educate them. The village follows ordinances and resolutions in the Ohio Revised Code," Krebs said. "We are audited every two years by the state and federally if we are doing a federal project. There are ordinances and resolutions that dictate how funds are set up and to be used. A letter questioned whether some accounts exist. They do exist. I take exception to someone saying we would do something wrong. Our funds are not co-mingled. I don't ever want to see the information I give construed in a negative way. I can tell you, that while I am here, that's not going to happen."
In her report, Krebs said all funds contain $760,756.87. She said the village is paying a property tax assessment of $195.18 for the central park ballfield area that they now own. She is to apply to the county for tax exempt status along with pictures of the property which is to then be sent to the state for approval.
Village Administrator Greg Martin said they would be mounting the pumps and brackets at the water plant in order to reduce the trihalomethane level which must be operable by the end of March as ordered by the Ohio EPA. Emergency snow streets were discussed along with a resident found to be parking partially in an alleyway blocking traffic and sidewalks not being cleaned.
Councilman Nate Frisch is attempting to meet with the Baseball Association to complete the village's contract for use of Myers Park.
Stanfield questioned whether the village should have bulk mail service and Krebs will investigate.
Council heard the second reading of the ordinance for acceptance of the 2014 Ohio Basic Code.
Council is to meet at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27.