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Some Clark water customers get exemption on fee increase

Move designed to get Limecrest users to sign up for service.

Clark County commissioners decided to temporarily exempt Limecrest residents from increased water connection fees that took effect Jan. 1.

Utilities Director Alice Godsey last month asked commissioners for an exception for Limecrest residents who in August 2013 could opt to connect to a new $1.5 million waterline. Commissioners approved construction of the Limecrest Water System in 2012, though the project was not fully supported by the neighborhood.

Godsey told commissioners that allowing Limecrest residents to continue paying current tap fees through Aug. 27 could encourage more residents to connect to the water system because only 30 of the 286 sewer customers have connected to the water system and have active water accounts.

“In consideration of the residents there who may be planning still to connect, we wanted to extend the current tap fees until Aug. 2014 to give them a year’s chance to connect and pay their fees at the old rate before the new rate takes effect,” Godsey said.

Last month, commissioners approved a request by the utilities department to raise water tap fees from $1,125 to $1,560, and sewer tap fees from $1,000 to $1,650 for 5/8 inch water meter, for example. The increase in water and sewer tap fees is the first in Clark County in 14 years and will only impact new customers.

Godsey said she doesn’t anticipate all of the 286 sewer customers to connect to the waterline, but she said “considerably more” might decide to do so if given more time.

“Giving them this additional time may convince them to move on their water connection by August,” Godsey said.

The utilities department has secured more than $1.1 million in funding for the construction of the waterline from an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency zero-percent, 30-year loan and $400,000 from a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission.

Godsey said officials want a minimum of 50 Limecrest residents to hook up to the water system in the first year and about 150 by the third year to provide enough revenue to repay the loan.

According to Godsey, in Limecrest, 39 water tap permits have been purchased, and of those, 30 have connected to the water system and are active water accounts.

In addition to the extension, current Limecrest water customers who are already enrolled in a connection fee payment option will also be also to continue their existing payment plan.

“We think that (the extension) will entice people who may be sitting on the fence and make their connection to the water system,” Godsey said.

The new waterline was needed, officials say, because residents had complained for years about brown, smelly, rusty water in the area and had expressed interest in a Limecrest Water System prior to its construction.

Residents who choose to hook up to the water supply would pay about $1,000 for a connection charge and radio read meter in addition to a plumbing permit fee, costs to hire a plumber and install a water service line to their home and costs to abandon their private well.

Don Hatfield, a Limecrest resident, said he has not connected to the water system because he was told he would need to annex his property into the city to connect to the waterline.

Hatfield said other residents haven’t connected because its too expensive.

“For most of them, or quite a few of them, it’s just priced out of their range,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield speculated more residents may connect in the spring.

“How many? I can’t say,” Hatfield said. “… Over time I think it would pay for itself. The water is not really drinkable. You have buy iron out to get (stains) out of your clothes. Over time, it would pay for itself. But the initial blow is going to be tough.”

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