By Rick Palsgrove
On its second try, Groveport City Council passed legislation to finance the city’s new water plant after a councilman reconsidered his vote.
Council voted 4-1 on April 14 to approve a resolution to use $2.18 million in 20-year bonds or bond anticipation notes to finance construction of the city’s new water plant.
Voting for the resolution were council members Shawn Cleary, Becky Hutson, Ed Rarey and Ed Dildine. Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert opposed the measure. Councilwoman Donna Drury was absent from the meeting due to illness.
In February, council fell one vote short of approving the financing for the water plant. The financing resolution was reintroduced and this time it passed when Dildine reconsidered the situation and changed his vote.
“From the beginning of this process I always felt our best option was to connect to Columbus for water service,” said Dildine. “This (building a new plant) is still a hard sell for me. But, we’re at the last step in the process, which a majority of council democratically decided to pursue a couple of years ago, and I don’t want to hold it up. I’m part of a team and my job now is to help make sure this project is completed in the best way possible.”
Dildine said council members make decisions based on their beliefs and on feedback from the community. He noted “nobody has been beating down the doors” coming to council meetings to express their thoughts on the water plant. He said he wished the decision on whether or not to build a new water plant at this time could have been made by a vote of the residents.
Hilbert favored connecting to Columbus for water service and maintained her opposition to building the new water plant stating, “I cannot vote to put that much debt on 1,200 people. That’s a huge debt for a generation. I cannot do that to the citizens of Groveport.”
Resident Mark Salva was the lone resident to speak about the water plant at the April 14 council meeting.
“No place in Ohio has clean water, so a new water plant is not going to solve that,” said Salva. “This is too much debt for 1,200 people. It’s a waste of time and money. I’d rather spend the money on the schools.”
Council members who support building the new water plant state it enables the city to control its own natural resources, water quality, water system, and rates instead of turning control over to an outside government.
There are 1,200 customers on the Groveport city water system. About 1,500 customers in Groveport are on the Columbus water system, according to Groveport officials.
City administrators have been working on plans for the new water plant since council approved going forward with the project in June 2012. About $200,000 has already been spent in engineering costs for the water plant.
Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall said the city received three bids to build the water plant.
Hall said plans are to begin construction of the water plant by mid-summer with the plant expected to be operational by the summer of 2015. She said the water plant will be built between the water tower and the storage barn along South Hamilton Road near the existing water plant.
Water rate increases are scheduled for those on the Groveport water system as follows: 20 percent for the first 2014 billing; 20 percent in 2015; 12 percent in 2016; and 3 percent in 2017.
Hall said, if Groveport had decided not to build a new water plant and connect with Columbus instead, there would still have been water rate increases. She said a full service water agreement with Columbus could possibly cost as much as building the new water plant. She said a master meter agreement with Columbus would not cost as much as a full service agreement, but there would still be charges.
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.