(Posted June 20, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The village of West Jefferson is moving forward with improvements to the Parkdale/Norwood sanitary sewer system, despite the lack of state funds to help offset costs.
On June 17, village council gave the green light to the $340,000 project. Old tiling from the entrance of Norwood Elementary across the backyards of 23 homes is causing infiltration problems and a burden on the sewer plant during heavy rains.
Council set aside money in the 2019 budget for the full cost of the improvements but had hoped to receive state funds to help cover some of the cost.
John Mitchell, West Jefferson’s public service director, applied for a $117,500 grant and a $117,500 zero-interest loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission. When the funding didn’t come through, he recommended that the village complete the project on its own. He said the need for improvements is pressing.
“The public service committee met to talk about it. We decided it’s in the budget and we’re all for it,” said council member Jim King.
“It also shows good faith with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency),” said council member Doug Eakins, adding that local investment in fixing infiltration problems should help the village to secure grants and low-interest loans for similar work in the future.
Mitchell said the project will go out to bid in November or December, and construction should start in late winter or early spring.
Council member Howard Wade Jr. asked if the work would disrupt school operations. The village plans to move the lines out of the residential backyards and into an easement on the school property. Mitchell said any disruption should be minimal.
In other action, council passed several pieces of legislation that allow for creation of a village-run building, zoning and planning department.
“As the village grows and gets busier and busier, it makes economic sense to do it ourselves,” Mitchell said.
Currently, West Jefferson contracts with Clark County Community Development (CCCD) for building inspections. The village gets half of the fees CCCD collects. With the switch to an in-house department, the village would keep 100 percent of the fees.
The village also plans to offer building inspection services to other municipalities. Council already has an agreement to do so for the village of Plain City. Leaders are in talks with the city of London and Madison County, as well, Mitchell said.
“We should have agreements in place in the next two to three months,” he said.
The money the village was spending on the contract with CCCD will go toward staffing costs for the in-house operation. Mitchell said the department likely will have three employees to start.