A safer treatment method is on its way at Defiance’s wastewater treatment plant.

City council approved a related ordinance Tuesday night for construction of the new ultraviolet process at the plant on Ohio 281, next to General Motors. And council gave its consent to the reappointment of a top city official.

The ordinance mentioned authorizes a contract with Kirk Bros Co., Findlay, for installation of the new disinfection system at the wastewater plant.

The cost is $2.153 million, far below the engineer’s estimate of $3.1 million.

The system will replace the use of chlorine gas with ultraviolet light.

“Council finds that an ultraviolet disinfection system will provide for a safer environment by eventually eliminating the use of chlorine gas,” the ordinance noted.

Referring to the low price, City Law Director Sean O’Donnell suggested that the price could rise.

“I would caution you against too much optimism here because this is a very complex project,” he said. “There could be some overruns, some extra expenses, some change orders, so we shouldn’t get too excited here. But it (the ordinance) would authorize the city administrator to enter into a contract with that general contractor for that amount.”

The legislation includes an emergency clause, meaning it becomes law upon the mayor’s signature rather than after the regular 30-day waiting period.

The project is expected to be completed by December 2020. Much of its funding will be provided through an Ohio EPA loan.

In another matter, Mayor Mike McCann announced that he plans to extend another one-year contract to Finance Director John Lehner effective Sept. 21.

Council offered no objection to the appointment.

Lehner will be completing 10 years with the city in September.

“I’ve worked with John Lehner for really six years now — two years as city council president and four years as mayor, and he’s just a joy to work with,” said McCann in an interview following council’s meeting. “Certainly, we butt heads from time to time over the finances, but that’s what you want, and he always looks out for the best interests of the city.”

Lehner is earning a salary of $106,920 this year, according to the city budget, and will be given a 2.5% raise under his new contract, McCann said. The percentage is the same as provided to members of the municipal employees union in the recent three-year contract authorized by council.

Also Tuesday, council approved an ordinance allowing a contract with Oglesby Construction Inc., Norwalk, for new pavement markings.

The cost is $51,331.14.

Earlier, Ward I Councilman Pete Lundberg reminded his colleagues of a combined meeting of the water and sewer committees planned at the Aug. 27 meeting. The topic will be water and sewer rates.

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