Commissioners hear about increased sewer rates, road plan and 811

Users of New Riegel, Honey Creek Hammer Heinsman and Bascom sewer districts will see a 3% rate increase next year. After five years, Seneca County Engineer Mark Zimmerman said sewer costs have gone up enough to where the fee increase is needed.

Zimmerman informed the Seneca County commissioners about the increase at their meeting Thursday. He said an increase of 3% per year is built into the plan’s structure, but until now he has recommended the commissioners rescind the increase each year.

Next year, New Riegel will pay an additional $7.92 for a total of $272. Honey Creek and Hammer Heinsman will pay an additional $5.07, or $174. And Bascom will be an additional $4.14, or $142.

Also sewer district related, Zimmerman said state law now requires the Seneca County Sewer District to join the Ohio Utility Protection Service – the program that offers free calls to 811 before residents or contractors dig to prevent cuts in underground utilities.

Residents are required by law to call 811 before digging, even for projects such as putting in a fence, replacing a mailbox post or any digging.

If his office gets a call, Zimmerman said he must go out and mark the county’s utilities in the area to be dug. He said the program is estimated to cost the sewer district $12,000-$15,000 a year.

Zimmerman also talked about the road use maintenance agreement — or RUMA — is being negotiated with APEX Clean Energy in case the Republic Wind project is approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board.

He said the contact includes a $50,000 per mile bond to be placed into an account in case it’s needed for road repair after the construction phase of the project and a $10,000 per mile bond for maintenance.

The contractor – who is not yet known – would be responsible for making repairs as needed to damaged roads and bridges.

Zimmerman said the bond is put in place in case of unforeseen events.

“It clearly sets rules and regulations that the developer and county will follow to allow a harmonious development to occur,” he said.

The commissioners and residents at the meeting expressed concern about karst areas, transportation conflicts with school buses and other complications to having construction vehicles on the road carrying large objects.

Zimmerman said the RUMA deals only with roads and bridges.

The commissioners took no action on the contract. Because he’s new to the commissioner seat, Tony Paradiso said he wished to investigate further to make sure he understood.