Holgate council talks water bill relief

By TARYN LAWSON @cntarynlawson lawson@crescent-news.com Published:

HOLGATE -- Just how much help residents should receive from the village when water rates go awry was the topic during a Tuesday night meeting of the Holgate Village Council.

After granting water rate adjustments to residents Laura Borrego, Therese Mansfield, Richard Tietje, and Leonard Mohr -- all of whom had experienced fixable problems that led to spiked water bills -- council turned their attention to the winter freeze, debating whether some relief should be provided to residents or landlords who ran extra water to keep pipes flowing.

Village administrator Dan Davis said he was approached by local landlord Larry Sidle, who asked that council consider making adjustments like these.

"(Village solicitor Dave Busick's) opinion is that if we adjust anyone's bill, we put ourselves in an awkward situation, where anyone can plead the same thing," said Mayor Wally Snyder.

Village clerk/treasurer Sally Briggs said that in the past, the village had a similar policy, but added that residents often came in claiming leaky faucets once their water bill was high enough to qualify for a rate reduction.

"We used to do this years ago, and it was a big mess," Briggs said.

Councilman Louis Streicher added that such a policy is in place in nearby Napoleon, but would work only if residents were required to notify the village beforehand that they are concerned about receiving a higher bill.

"We appreciate that you want to protect your properties, but that adjustment probably should be made between the landlord and tenant," Snyder said.

No changes were made to the village's current policy, which is to grant residents who have resolved fixable problems adjustments to their bills.

Also Tuesday, council discussed briefly whether to pursue seeking additional bids for work to be done on a village maintenance building.

According to Davis, the village has already received three bids, with Streicher urging the group to seek more -- and possibly look at non-local options as well -- in an effort to find a lower rate.

Snyder recommended Davis obtain some additional bids for reference, adding that the village is tasked with selected the lowest-priced and best -- not necessarily the lowest-priced -- option.

In other business, council:

-- discussed a new program of the Ohio Department of Trans-portation (ODOT) that will see ODOT incurring the cost of, and providing staffing for, the inspection of bridges, including three in Holgate for at least three years. According to Davis, the village formerly paid roughly $1,300 per year for bridge inspections.

-- discussed the difference between village property and right of way, as it relates to cleanup, claim filing, and tree planting following last year's summer storms.

The meeting concluded with an executive session scheduled for the purpose of discussing employee compensation. No action followed.

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