TORONTO - The city's water distribution system was discussed during Monday's City Council meeting.
Mayor John Geddis told council the city is preparing the groundwork for an estimated $1.9 million in water infrastructure upgrades throughout the city, including replacement of water lines and new hydrants. Geddis said funding for the project could conceivably come from a variety of grant sources as well as a low-interest, long-term loan from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
"The EPA is going to give us 30 percent forgiveness (on any loans)," said Geddis, adding that means the EPA would forgive the city having to pay back 30 percent for funds borrowed from the agency for the project.
Geddis also cited several sources for grant funds he's pursuing for the project. The mayor also said he's applying for up to $600,000 for the project from the state's Community Development Block Grant funds to possibly fund the proposed project.
"It's taken years to plan for this (project and funding). I have to make my application for the CDBG funds by Nov. 2," Geddis said, adding to acquire the grant funds, the city may have to consider a slight increase in water rates. "You have to be able to show you have the ability to pay back (any loans for upgrades)."
Geddis said he's hoping a majority of funding for the project would be paid for from a variety of grant sources, allowing the city to borrow less funds from the EPA. However, he noted a slight increase in water rates soon would give the city a better chance to attain the CDBG funds. The mayor also said he is hoping any bids for the proposal would come in under the engineer's estimate.
The city's water system is a stand-alone enterprise fund, and expenses for system operations can't run a deficit.
In a separate matter, Geddis said the city's wastewater treatment plant also will need upgrades.
"We're in perfect EPA compliance now, but it's like a car needs new brakes and tires," said the mayor, adding plant upgrades will need to be made in the near future. "Sometimes we want these kind of things to go away, but they aren't going to go away."
The service committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in council chambers to discuss the city's options.
In other matters:
The city will be milling and paving portions of Euclid Avenue, Banfield Avenue and Daniels Street, according to the mayor. The $155,000 project will hopefully begin soon to avoid inclement weather, he added.
"We want (the paving) completed by Nov. 15," said Geddis. "We've also got to see where we are (in the city budget for additional paving). Hopefully we will have enough left to fix some intersections."
Karen Spoonemore from the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School approached council and asked for its support of the school's upcoming levy proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot. The JVS is seeking an additional 1 mill for current expenses, purchasing equipment for buildings and improving buildings for 10 years. Council unanimously voted to endorse the levy.
Councilman at large Ron Holmes asked council and the city administration to seek grant funding to make more of the city's sidewalks handicapped accessible.
"You see some people with (motorized) wheelchairs in the streets," said Holmes, adding some city sidewalks aren't suitable for wheelchairs.
Geddis agreed with Holmes and said he would look into the matter.
It was announced the city's Great Expectations Christmas Parade will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 1.
Council declined to excuse council President Tom Thomas being absent from the meeting. Second Ward Councilman Dorothy Blaner led the meeting in Thomas' absence. Members said they will consider the matter during the next council meeting, set for 7 p.m. Oct. 22 in council chambers.