Battle between ELO and BWD comes to an end

EAST LIVERPOOL – At long last, it appears an eight-year battle between the city and Buckeye Water District is at an end with action taken Monday night by City Council.

By a unanimous vote, council approved an ordinance authorizing Mayor Jim Swoger to enter into a settlement agreement with the BWD, accepting a $6.2 million judgment awarded by the court.

The lawsuit was filed by the city in 2005 after BWD breached its contract to purchase water from the city. The eight-year-long legal battle ensued, with the city ultimately awarded $9.7 million by the county Court of Common Pleas.

That judgment was appealed, and the city again emerged victorious, although the 7th District Court of Appeals lowered the judgment to $4.8 million. With interest, the amount reached the $6.2 million mark.

Both the BWD and county commissioners, who were determined to be part of the lawsuit, had previously signed the settlement agreement.

The $6.2 million, for the most part, will go to the city water department and can be used only for water-related projects.

Council made no comment in approving the agreement.

City utilities Director Robert Disch was also in the audience but made no comment on the matter.

In another utilities-related matter, Councilman Ray Perorazio reiterated his concern that sewage customers are required to pay the cost of repairs to lateral lines, even when not located on their property.

He said, as he had at a previous meeting, that the city should be responsible for costs off residents’ property.

Disch advised there would be “a lot of complications” and the city would “have to have a mountain of money to take over (the cost of repairing) laterals.”

He added, however, that most people do not end up paying $5,000 or $10,000 for repairs, saying he has never seen anyone forced to spend an inordinate amount.

No action was taken on the issue during the meeting.