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City, county discuss sewage agreement

April 19, 2001

City, county discuss sewage agreement



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II is asking for changes to a sewer service agreement with the Washington County Commissioners so that the city can put together an annexation policy.

Bruchey wants an annexation policy that would require property owners hooking on to the city's sewer system to annex into the city.

The mayor said language in a sewer service agreement would prohibit such an annexation policy.

Bruchey said a phrase in the sewer agreement that states the city "shall" accept sewer flows from areas outside the city means the city cannot withhold sewer service from a property owner who wants to hook onto the city system.

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He wants the agreement to state the city "may" accept those sewer flows, which would give the city the ability to withhold sewer service from those who do not wish to be annexed.

City and county officials were discussing an amendment to the agreement when Bruchey raised his concern about another portion of the document. The agreement is being amended so the city and county can transfer sewer flows between their sewer systems.

Bruchey said he had no problem with the proposed amendment, which appears to be supported by the council and commissioners.

Commissioner John L. Schnebly, who was on a task force that put together the revisions, questioned Bruchey's actions.

Schnebly said the amendments proposed by the task force and Bruchey's concerns are different and should be addressed separately.

"The language he says is objectionable we have been operating under for years," Schnebly said.

Bruchey said this is an opportune time to make the changes because the bodies are looking at the agreement.

The council and commissioners instructed their attorneys to work out the details. It was unclear when the matter would return for further discussion or approval.

Bruchey and Schnebly said they hope the latest version of the agreement can be voted on next month.

The amendment to the sewer agreement was developed by a joint city-county committee that included Schnebly and City Councilman William M. Breichner.

The plan calls for transferring some city sewer customers to the county sewer system by linking sewer lines near the Washington County Detention Center.

City sewer customers on the west edge of the city and along Interstate 81 gradually would be switched to the county sewer system as new sewer customers connect onto the city sewer system east of the city.

Transferring sewage flows would take advantage of gravity, and eventually eliminate the need for a city sewer pumping station near the detention center.

Some existing customers could wind up sending their sewage to a different treatment facility, but would see no difference in billing or service under the plan.

Murray has said the plan could save and generate enough money so that projected sewer rate increases for city and county customers would be less than previously estimated.

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