The city of Groveport will build a new water plant instead of contracting with the city of Columbus for full water service.
At its June 25 meeting, Groveport City Council voted 4-2 to construct the new water plant. Council defeated, by a 4-2 vote, another ordinance that would have meant abandoning the existing water plant and contracting with the city of Columbus for full water service.
Council members Shawn Cleary, Jan Stoots, Donna Drury and Ed Rarey voted in favor of building a new Groveport water plant while Ed Dildine and Jean Ann Hilbert voted to contract with Columbus for water services.
"I would rather be independent than dependent," said Cleary.
CT Consultants estimate it will cost $3.17 million to build the new Groveport water plant.
It would have cost an estimated $3.29 million to connect to the city of Columbus for a full service water agreement, according to CT Consultants. This Columbus option included connection costs of about $1 million for new water meters, pressure reduction valves and other charges.
An alternative to this option was to connect to Columbus for full water service without the connection charges. This would have involved handling it as a capital project where 20 year bonds could be issued for the city of Groveport to pay for it as debt retirement.
Another option called for contracting with Columbus for water under a master meter agreement at an estimated cost of $1.6 million.
The existing Groveport water plant on South Hamilton Road was built in 1936. The workings of the plant were replaced in 1962 and the facility expanded from 1965-68. The plant underwent other refurbishments and upgrades from 1997 to 2002.
There are approximately 1,200 customers on the Groveport city water system and about 1,500 customers in Groveport are on the Columbus water system, according to Groveport officials.
Council member viewpoints
Cleary, whose home is on the Columbus water system, said he favors building a new water plant so Groveport can maintain control of its own rates and water system. He noted his water rates with Columbus have increased 3.5 percent per year the last three years.
Dildine said Groveport contracted with Columbus for sewer services in 1970 and in 1992 worked out an agreement for Columbus to provide water services to portions of Groveport to encourage growth.
"Everyone keeps bringing up maintaining control," said Dildine. "Where were your concerns back then? My guess is those past decisions were made because they made economic sense. I’m looking at the dollars and cents of this.Why not look at the economics like we do on every other issue we make decisions on?"
Cleary countered that Groveport’s commercial growth has not been entirely tied to who provides water services. He said many of the businesses that located to Groveport came because of the work done by Groveport officials to attract the companies and by the tax incentives the town offers.
Hilbert requested the water issue vote be postponed so city officials could explore an alternative master meter agreement with Columbus and to verify how much Groveport Madison Local Schools would be paying under the proposed new rates. However, council voted not to postpone the vote. Hilbert said she was "ashamed" that council rejected the postponement.
"If you build a new water plant you will be paying tremendous rates," said Hilbert of the potential rate increases.
Stoots favors building a new water plant because she said, "Otherwise we would be paying Columbus to take this natural resource from us. If we give it up we’ll never get it back. If we maintain our own water plant we have control over the rates. We can only estimate what Columbus’ rates would be."
Stoots said a new water plant would also improve the water quality for customers.
Rarey and Drury did not comment at the meeting.
City Administrator Marsha Hall will solicit bids and and pursue a contract with the lowest and responsible bidder for the construction of the water plant. This information, along with specific new water rates for those on the Groveport water system, will be brought before council at a future meeting.