By Linda Dillman
Water and sewer rates are going up Jan. 1, 2023, for the vast majority of city of Canal Winchester utility users after several years with no increase.
The water rate per 1,000 gallons is currently $6.46 and the sewer rate is $6 per 1,000 gallons. Following Canal Winchester City Council approval on Oct. 3, both rates increase two percent each year for the next four years. For water, in 2023, the rate is $6.59 and tops out at $6.99 in 2026. For sewer, the rate is $6.12 and peaks at $6.49.
“We went four years total with no increases in one,” said Canal Winchester Public Works Director Matt Peoples said. “For water, we have quite a few capital projects coming up.”
The list includes work at the water treatment plant, public service administration building, a potential $18 to $20 million sanitary sewer headworks project and compliance with new phosphorus regulation requirements.
Peoples said his department was conservative with budgeting and wanted to keep rate increases at modest levels, while still being able to fund operations.
U.S. 33 cable barrier
Council passed an ordinance to contract with the Ohio Department of Transportation to install a cable barrier on U.S. Route 33 starting at the Gender Road interchange to east of the Hill-Diley Road interchange.
The stretch of U.S. 33 from Gender to Hill-Diley has been the site of deadly crossover accidents. Most recently a car traveling northwest on U.S. 33 in July crossed the median and struck two vehicles traveling southeast. Two people were killed.
ODOT assumes 100 percent of the cost of preliminary engineering, right-of-way and construction costs. Canal Winchester agrees to assume the total cost of any features requested by the city that are not necessary for the improvement.
Chamber seeks support
Questions about an August request by the local Chamber of Commerce for the city to provide financial support for a new full-time position found council asking for more information before making a final decision.
The chamber is asking for a three-year commitment from the city. The total base salary, benefits, training, etc. for the fulltime position is estimated at $64,160; year two is $66,845; and year three is $68,580.
The chamber job would focus on strategic planning, increasing membership and creating meaningful and intentional training and certification opportunities for members, while keeping membership costs and sponsorship opportunities affordable for the business community.
The chamber hired a consultant on an initial 90-day contract while working through funding opportunities with the city.
“Nothing has changed in my opinion from the original ask until now,” said Councilwoman Jill Amos. “There’s still a lot of questions for me. I still don’t think we have the full picture of why the city needs to be responsible.”
Councilman Bob Clark said he has concerns about the financial request with the number of projects the city is also considering, such as the police study and the potential for adding more officers, McGill Park, and street signage.
“I’m getting concerned about the money and this (chamber request) could open up something we might not want to go down,” said Clark.
Council President Chuck Milliken said the potential of allocating up to $68,000 might need to be negotiated.
“I do share your concern to some degree, but I would like to see a thriving chamber,” said Milliken. “How can we play a part to make that happen while protecting the interests of the city?”
Councilwoman Laurie Amick compared city support of the Joint Recreation District with the chamber proposal, calling the request “seed money” in getting the chamber moving in the right direction for a brief period of time.
However, Amos said the JRD, unlike the chamber, has city representatives sitting on its board.
“We don’t serve on the chamber,” said Amos. “It’s not a committee or function of council. That’s a big amount of money we’re asking our city residents to invest in.”
Councilman Patrick Shea thinks the chamber and Destination: Canal Winchester could be more effective if both organizations joined forces.
“I think a good healthy chamber is good for our community, but with the size of our community, having an organization that serves both of those functions would be worth looking at,” said Shea.
Amick thinks the missions of the two organizations are different and believes it would be appropriate for chamber representatives to answer that question for themselves in a future discussion.
While council held their first reading of the financial support ordinance on Oct. 3, the legislation can be amended before a final vote is taken.