By Linda Dillman
The cost of water for Blacklick Estates residents could go up again despite opposition from the Madison Township trustees and questions raised by State Representative Hearcel Craig.
Craig attended the trustees’ June 15 meeting where trustees Ed Dildine, Victor Paini and John Kershner opposed a rate hike increase filed by Aqua Ohio with the PUCO and signed a petition objecting to the action.
“We’ve been working on the Aqua Ohio issue for some time,” said Craig. “We will do whatever we can, (including) looking at a legislative response. I’ve met with Aqua Ohio, the Consumer’s Council and the PUCO. It’s a serious issue.”
Craig said he told Aqua Ohio he wants to make sure they are providing information to the community impacted by the potential rate hike.
“I do understand the water fees are quite different than (fees assessed by) a municipal government,” said Craig. “It is an issue that will take a lot of discussion…there’s been decades of issues with this. I am working with both parties to see if we can bring some relief to residents. We look at the information carefully. We’ve said to Aqua we want you to be reasonable.”
Aqua Ohio is asking the PUCO for a 9.2 percent increase in residential water billing only. The company was last granted a rate increase in 2014 with a system improvement charge applied in 2015. Aqua Ohio representative Jeff LaRue said the charge was not directly tied to the development’s new water treatment system, in spite of what some claimed and was reported.
LaRue previously said the charge was applied to all PUCO regulated Aqua owned systems across Ohio and helped fund projects across the state.
If the planned increase is approved at the requested rate, the average customer bill would go up $4.96 per month. According to LaRue, the average customer uses approximately 4,023 gallons per month, equating $51.76 for water and $50.67 for sewer charges for a current monthly bill of $102.43.
Following Craig’s comments and unanimous support by the trustees for the letter of objection submitted to the PUCO on behalf of the township, the trustees took a brief recess to join fellow residents in signing a petition that will be forwarded to the utility commission.
Service awards were given to township employees, including Jason Osborne, 20 years; Steve Owens, 15 years; Josh Mund, five years and Administrator Susan Brobst, five years. An oath of office was given to Firefighter Michael Miller. The trustees approved a list of 15 candidates under consideration for fulltime employment in the fire department.