(Posted May 17, 2023)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
In the coming months, Mount Sterling plans to spend more than $100,000 on water-related repairs and maintenance.
On May 8, village council voted 6-0 to transfer $111,000 from the general fund to the water fund. The money will be spent on:
• Water meter replacements–The village has been replacing residential water meters with new meters. They have approximately 16 left to replace, but those 16 are more complex jobs and could require special materials and hired services.
• Water valve repairs–This is an ongoing project.
• Bulk meter installation–Individuals and companies purchase large quantities of water from the village for tasks like filling swimming pools and agriculture tanks. Currently, village staff must be on site to assist those customers. A bulk meter will make it a self-serve operation, freeing up village employees to work on other projects.
Council member Joyce Phillips said Mount Sterling has seen an uptick in bulk water sales because surrounding communities, including Circleville, Washington Court House, and London, no longer sell bulk water.
• Fire hydrant repairs–Over the last several months, the village has worked to get all of its fire hydrants operational. Some weren’t working at all. Council member Andy Drake said “it’s an enormous improvement” that helps the Tri-County Joint Fire District do its job. However, some additional repairs are still needed.
• Water tower maintenance–A new water tower is in the works for Mount Sterling. The plan is to have it up and running within three years. Until then, the village needs to keep its current water tower in working order. Repairs and maintenance are needed.
Drake said the $111,000 in water projects is a big hit to the budget but necessary. He said the projects are not grant eligible, so the money has to come from the general fund.
“You might ask, ‘What about the initial $100,000 we committed about 16 months ago to water distribution repairs and other maintenance that is necessary?’” he said. “That is gone. We have spent it. We have spent every last dime, and the system is frankly better for it.”
The work completed with the initial $100,000 represents good progress, he continued, and helps to provide service residents expect and the Environmental Protection Agency requires.
“Unfortunately, that took a lot of money,” Drake said.
Mason Park fence
The village’s parks and recreation committee planned to repair the fence at Mason Park, but the contractor discovered problems that require replacement rather than repair. The committee requested that council approve the transfer of $12,300 from the general fund to the parks and recreation fund to cover replacement costs.
Prior to the vote at the March 8 meeting, resident Matthew Mason encouraged council to vote for the funding transfer. The park is named for his grandfather. He considers it one of the focal points of the community.
“I think it’s a needed thing. I just think it makes the park look a whole lot better,” he said.
Becky Martin, a council member and chair of the parks and recreation committee, also encouraged her fellow council members to vote “yes.”
“I love the whole community, but one of the main reasons I have committed myself to council is because of my love for the park,” Martin said. “I fully believe that we have a showcase of a park that will only continue to get better and better. It will be the reason young families with children will move to our community.”
Council ended up voting down the funding request, 4-2. Those voting “no” included Phillips, Drake, Ross Anderson, and David Timmons. Those voting “yes” were Martin and Bill Tilley. Besides Martin, none of the council members commented.
Earlier in the meeting, Phillips talked about the recent spring cleanup in town and other efforts the nuisance and abatement committee supports to make the village prettier and to encourage residents to take ownership and pride in their properties.
After the fence vote, Martin referenced Phillips’s comments, saying, “I hope that council would some day consider applying the same philosophy to our park.”
Money for improvements at Mason Park come largely from donations, fundraisers, and grants. Last year, the village received a $75,000 grant through the state capital budget for improvements at the park.