Council hears first reading of water fee increases

By Cecilia Fox -

WEST MILTON — At their meeting Tuesday night, the West Milton village council heard the first readings of several ordinances that would make changes to water fees, parking restrictions and the village’s budget.

Council heard the first reading of an ordinance that will establish a fee for paying off the debt on the water tower improvements. This will be added to the water meter debt fee and the fund will be renamed to the water capital debt service fund.

The fee will increase by $3 per month for all meter sizes. Those with a five-eighths-inch meter, most residential properties, previously paid $2.85 per month, which would increase to $5.85 per month.

“One announcement we’d like to make is that there are no rate increases for 2018,” Municipal Manager Matt Kline said. “However, there is a debt that we are taking on to strengthen the distribution system.”

Kline said both of the village’s water towers were in “very poor shape” and it will cost about $600,000 to refurbish both. The north water tower has been refurbished and repainted, with the exception of the village logo, and work is anticipated to begin on the south water tower next year.

“That would take care of both towers and continue to take care of the meter debt. Now, we’re very confident this will bring in enough money to make our first payment. Once we know that, we’ll be coming back at this time next year, we hope, with recommendations to lower,” he said.

He noted that, as more customers come in, like new residents of Stillwater Crossing as the development progresses, that will lower rates as well.

Council also approved a resolution authorizing the replacement of the trickling media filter at the wastewater treatment facility. Kline described the equipment as a “jigsaw puzzle” that wastewater filters through as part of the cleaning process. “Typically, our guys do everything, but this takes some specialty,” he said.

The village will contract with a Tipp City company, Doll Layman, for the removal and replacement of the filter for $16,098. The 312 filter pieces and new walking grates will cost $26,540. The filter was last replaced in 1991.

Council also heard the first reading of legislation that adjusted appropriations for several unanticipated expenses, including the refurbishment of the North Water Tower at $300,000. The adjustments also included the acquisition of land next to the park, which was 75 percent grant-funded, and work on Forest Avenue.

“There were some legal fees that we had not anticipated, but all of that is coming back to us on the first close of the Stillwater development,” Kline added.

Another unexpected expense was the $19,000 spent on a water model study, which Kline said is important for the community’s future.

“If you look at all that, the $612,000, $419,000 of it has either been borrowed money or is grant money,” Kline said.

Council also heard the first reading of the 2018 budget. It includes some major expenditures, Kline pointed out, including the refurbishment of the south water tower at a cost of $310,000.

Another expenditure that will also eventually be reimbursed, Kline said, is a water booster pump station to serve the new development. The village secured zero percent financing for the project, which will eventually be paid for by Stillwater Crossing.

“To be able to get the grant, that runs through our books. So that’s a half a million-dollar expenditure you would otherwise never see on our books,” Kline said.

The budget also includes $250,000 for engineering that will need to be done for the extension of water and sewer to Ludlow Falls. The village received a grant from the U.S. Army Corps of engineers for just over $1 million, which makes the project affordable, Kline said. That $250,000 for engineering will be reimbursed by the grant.

“So if you add up all of those that I just mentioned, that comes out to almost $1.2 million. If you take that $1.2 million, which would be abnormal expenditures that we’ve never had in the past, that reduces what our total budget would look like to $4.6 million,” Kline said. “Our budget that we’re proposing this year is about $91,000 more, minus those big expenses, than what we actually spent in 2016. So it’s about a 2 percent increase.”

Council also reviewed an ordinance that will prohibit parking of motorized vehicles on lawns or any non-driveway portion of the front yard. The proposed ordinance also stipulates that all vehicles must be parked on a hard surface like asphalt or concrete which must encompass the entire vehicle, and that all vehicles parked in a driveway must have current registration or license plates.

Kline noted that the village’s code requires properties to have driveways that are be a minimum of 10 feet wide and a maximum of 24 feet wide.

A public hearing on this ordinance will be held at council’s December meeting.

By Cecilia Fox

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