(Posted Sept. 17, 2018)
By Amanda Ensinger, Staff Writer
Mount Sterling’s new water plant is putting the village in a financial bind that will come to a head in 2019.
A substantial deficit is projected next year for the water and waste water funds.
“We will be six figures in the deficit,” said council member Rebecca Burns at the Sept. 10 council meeting. “The reason for this is because of our current revenue, expenditures and our debt load… It is critical that we do something different to increase revenue.”
Rate hikes have been a solution in other municipalities.
Some village leaders have been vocal about the water plant being too big for the village’s needs.
“The plant can produce 900,000 gallons of water a month, but we are only using 200,000 gallons a month,” said Courtney Bricker, fiscal officer.
According to the Mayor Billy Martin, the village is spending approximately $10,000 a month on electricity for the plant.
“I can’t believe those before us would put this burden on our community,” Martin said. “It makes my blood boil.”
Martin said the village has looked at every way possible to reduce expenses at the plant, including reducing the electric bill. Currently, the only feasible solution is to run just part of the plant, he said.
“It is producing too much water that we don’t need,” Martin continued. “We are looking at solutions, including cutting it in half.”
The village recently received the results of a study conducted by Environmental Engineering Services of Lebanon, Ohio, to determine whether what residents are paying for water and sewer is enough to cover operational costs and existing loans on the water and sewer plants.
“No matter what solution we come up with, we have to make sure we are covered for the future and capital improvements,” Burns said. “Council is working hard to come up with solutions.”
In other business, council discussed the importance of the village taking care of its own properties. Residents have lodged complaints about village property not being properly maintained.
“I am not above filing complaints against the village, as well, for not maintaining their property,” said Tammy Vansickle, council member.
Vansickle also reminded residents that as they rake leaves this fall to keep them out of the street. Residents also are responsible for picking up tree limbs and other debris that falls from their property into the street.
Also during the meeting, the mayor stated that he will be laying all his cards on the table at the next council meeting.
“I will be on my soapbox and have a lot to say and will say it,” Martin said. “I’m going to expose a lot and make the public aware of what is going on in this town.”
Martin didn’t elaborate on what he plans to talk about and instead encouraged residents to attend the meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at village hall, 1 S. London St.