Paden City Searches for Answers to Water Problems
The topic of water has been a major concern for municipalities throughout the county. Paden City is no exception to this. Council members held a meeting Feb. 5, and several residents in attendance were informed that the water situation in town is not looking good.
Mayor Ken Stead said Abraham and Company, an accounting firm, had finished a Cash-Flow Analysis. It was decided that a water increase of $3.12 would be needed to get Paden City back to operating in the positive. That would be a 9.5 percent increase. This will raise water bills to $35.93 for non-metered water. There will also be a new tap fee of $350, but that will not affect those already with water. It was mentioned that there has not been a water increase in Paden City for seven years. These numbers still have to be approved by the Public Service Commission. A motion passed to move forward on the project.
Furthermore, along with the water rate increase, it was revealed that the city’s water tanks need replaced. The tanks have not been worked on in 10 years and are in need of major repairs. By law, the city is required to have a 72-hour backup of water, which would be one million gallons. The tanks and system cannot handle that right now. There are three tanks, and they are beyond the point of repair, so the city will have to replace the tanks. One tank was built in 1906, one in 1907, and the third was built in the 1950s. In order to update the system, the city is working with engineers to lay out the project. The Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council (MOVRC) has already advertised for the project, and Mayor Stead has talked with approximately 10 engineering firms willing to do the work. The estimates for the project are very high, and it will take approximately five years to complete the project. With the telemetry system being down and the constant breaking of lines, council feels this is a project that must be done. It was suggested to build three 300,000 gallon tanks as to “not put all of your eggs in one basket.” It was stated that Paden City residents do not want to hear that they would have to switch to metered water, as a pre-requisite of state or federal regulations.
Mayor Stead noted, “We have distribution problems. We have tank and storage problems. We have pumping problems, and we have well problems.”
An interview team was established to interview the engineering firms and report back to council to with the three best suggested firms. The team consists of council members Jim Richmond and Steve Kastigar, along with Water, Streets and Maintenance Superintendent Josh Billiter, Water Operator Joey Parish and City Engineer Mike Efaw.
Several residents of Paden City were in attendance of the council meeting and a few voiced their concerns, stating that they oppose the rate increase in water. One resident asked about collecting outstanding water bills before considering the rate increase. He was informed that the city had submitted 126 disconnect notices that day alone. Each month a report is filed for unpaid and disconnected water bills. If the city can locate the individual that owes money, the individual is then served notice by the police to go to magistrate court. It was noted that the trouble with going through the magistrate court is that magistrate charges each individual $75 dollars for their appearance in court, where they usually plead guilty. The individual is then sent off to pay the unpaid water bill. However, usually, the individuals continue not to pay their bills, so there are no funds coming back to the city, and there is nothing more that the city can do to pursue the matter. Thus, the city has lost those funds.
As to an update on the Meadow Heights water project, council was informed that money was transferred from the State Investment Pool for the start-up fee of the Meadow Heights water pump, which is in the process of being built. Paden City is waiting to hear back from the State Investment Pool as to the progress of the pump. The pump will be installed, once received, and foundations and lines will be set. The only question remaining is as to whether the lines will be able to hold the pressure.
Roger Spragg with Paden City Park and Pool spoke to council and informed members that the Park and Pool Commission is taxed with upkeep, safety, and improvements of the city park. This has caused the Park and Pool budget to go from approximately $20,000 down to roughly $8,000. Spragg mentioned that discussion has come up of selling the Paden City High School football and softball fields to the Wetzel County Board of Education as possible ways to provide improvements to the facilities. He continued that the BOE would have the funds to maintain upkeep and make improvements, that he feels the city cannot afford. Spragg also mentioned that the town would be able to use the fields for community events, and if the school were ever to close, the city would have first option to buy the fields back for the same amount that they were sold for. Some of the things that the BOE would like to see upgraded are a new press box, a new equipment building, men’s and women’s restrooms, a new PA system, new field lights, and a new surface treatment. Spragg noted that the board could use the funds from the sale to make improvements on other facilities throughout the town. When asked how much it costs to maintain the facilities, Spragg did not have a definite answer. Also, he was informed that there were no restrictions to keep the BOE from making upgrades to the field if they chose to do so. All the BOE would have to do is obtain permission from council to make any upgrades to the facilities. It was suggested to increase the rental fee for the BOE, to help cover the costs of maintenance and upkeep, as opposed to selling it outright. It was mentioned that there needs to be better scheduling, and there needs to be more ways to finance the park’s operation for more than three months out of the year. Some suggestions included putting in a miniature golf course, selling fuel and even selling ice cream. Council is open to suggestions to generate revenue through activities, concessions, or any other means, but they were opposed to selling the property.
The Eagles requested permission to build a shelter at the south end of the campgrounds. The agreement is the Eagles can build a 20×40 foot shelter to hold their annual picnic and use the shelter at no cost to them, and the city is free to rent out the shelter during the remainder of the year. The Eagles will be liable for upkeep.
Miranda Corcoran pleaded with council over the water that has been covering her driveway and creating a dangerous ice covering. Corcoran lives in Meadow Heights, and the water has not only also caused the deterioration of the road to her house, but it has created a safety issue when getting in and out of her vehicle. She stated that she has fallen several times, despite battling the ice with salt. Corcoran said she has used approximately 500 pounds of salt over the course of the winter, which is costly. She is at a loss of what to do and stated that she cannot use her own driveway.
Council was informed that city workers visited the Meadow Heights area to clean out a ditch, hoping to rectify the problem. However, the workers could not clean the ditch, because they were unsure as to where the property lines were and did not have permission to be on any other property. The city would need a right-of-way to divert the water, but without knowing where property lines are, they cannot do any digging due to the risk of destroying personal property. Mayor Stead informed Corcoran that he would send city workers back to Meadow Heights to try to find a solution to the problem.
Another resident mentioned that there was a sewer line that had not been reconnected after the recent sewer project, and it has cause a geyser in her front yard. The problem was that the company (Wolfe) had driven over the pipe and crushed it. When workers replaced the pipe, they left it unconnected and so the Sewer Department may be able to fix it with a line extension.
Speaking of sewer, the sewer board reported that they are holding $500 from Fields until they come back to finish the manhole issues. There is a manhole overflowing and going into a resident’s home. That resident reported the problem to the DEP. DEP informed the city that there will be a violation. The USDA is looking to see if the city can obtain more funds for the city, without having to raise sewer rates. Part of the problem is that the lines are not big enough to handle the amount of flow being produced. There are also 7 other manholes that are having problems and they all need to be fixed.
Mayor Stead told council that they about to lose the docks on the Ohio River. It was suggested that they be removed every year from now on. The problem is that the city doesn’t have the proper equipment to remove the docks. Litman offered to remove the docks at a rate of $170 per hour for equipment and operator. The support structure is twisted and needs to be fixed and the docks are pulling away from the banks. After much discussion, the city passed a motion to rent a telehandler and let city workers remove the docks. They will come out in four sections, each section weighing approximately 2,200 pounds, and will have to be moved on a flatbed truck.
In other news, the city has bought a new hot water tank for the city building. They have also renewed their contract with Pestech to spray for bugs.
A motion passed to change the city recorder position from an elected position to a non-elected position. Also, the mayor announced that Municipal elections will be held on June 7. The following seats are up for election: Mayor, Ward One, Ward Two and Ward Three. Submissions for these positions must be filed by April 9.
Coal severance deposits from July 19, 2017 through January 17, 2018 have been received in the amount of $5,501.16. Payment of $2,453.88 was given to both Park and Pool and the Paden City Library leaving a balance of $634.81. A motion passed to use these funds to fix the city dump truck as it will not currently pass state inspection.
The next scheduled Paden City Council meeting is set for March 5 beginning at 7:00 p.m. located at the city building in Paden City.