Judge rules in favor of school district in water, sewer debate
A judge has ruled that the city of Reynoldsburg will provide water and sewer to the new school buildings on Summit Road.
The decision, handed down Dec. 14, will save Reynoldsburg City Schools $600,000, City Attorney Jed Hood said at the Dec. 14 council meeting.
Last August, the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District (SWLCWS) filed suit in Licking County Common Pleas Court against the Reynoldsburg school board on the grounds that it should provide water and sewage service to the district's new high school and elementary school.
The SWLCWS argued it had installed pipes in the Summit Road area before Reynoldsburg annexed the land from Etna Township, Hood said.
However, Judge Thomas Marcelain ruled that the Ohio Constitution grants municipalities the exclusive right to provide water and sewage services to properties within their borders, Hood said.
Had the judge's decision favored SWLCWS, the school district would have paid $600,000 in tap-in fees, Hood said.
Historically, the city has waived tap-in fees to the school district to save residents from paying higher taxes, Hood said.
"The parents of the kids who go to the schools are our residents," Hood said.
The ruling also means that township residents who wish to have their property annexed into the city would also receive water and sewer service from Reynoldsburg, Hood said.
In related news, on Dec. 11, the state of Ohio informed City Engineer Jim Miller that Reynoldsburg and its local partners will receive a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) to improve Summit Road.
The city, the school district and local landowners applied for the $2.5-million grant in September. The remainder of the $3.52-million project would be funded through a 10-year, interest-free loan, Miller said.
The city would be responsible for $600,000 of the loan, the landowners would donate their property with an estimated value of $120,000, and the schools would cover the remaining $230,000 loan amount, Miller said.
The state requires that the schools complete their portion of the improvements regardless of the city's involvement. By partnering with the city, the schools will save approximately $50,000 to $70,000 on the project, Miller said.
The project will begin in 2011 and will involve widening Summit from Refugee Road to the city limits (3,000 feet south of Main Street), Miller said.
Plans also include curb construction, storm drains and a multiuse path, Miller said.
Originally, Etna Township and Licking County were on board to extend the project into Etna's jurisdiction, but a few weeks before the application deadline, they withdrew, Miller said.
Councilman Mel Clemens said the trustees withdrew because of the water and sewage dispute.
Miller said the trustees feared that once they invest money to improve the township portion of the road that the city would annex the land.
In other business, on Jan. 6 at 9 a.m., the city will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the completed Rose Hill Road reconstruction, Miller said.
The ceremony will take place at the United Dairy Farmers on the corner of Rose Hill and Main Street.