Disch takes seat with BPU

EAST LIVERPOOL – Twice-retired city utilities Director Bob Disch is back making decisions regarding water and sewer, but in a different capacity.

On Thursday, Disch took a seat on the Board of Public Utilities, replacing long-time board member Mary Tambellini with an appointment by Mayor Jim Swoger.

Disch recently retired as part-time utilities director, a position he assumed after having formerly retired as full-time utilities director. He served more than 30 years.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board heard from resident Betsi Wells, who lives at the corner of Parkway and Elysian Way, who showed a heavily discolored filter from her water system that had been installed just two weeks before.

According to Wells, after installing the filtering system, filters once had to be changed every 12-18 months but now require replacement every month due to discoloration, which she said is “very costly.”

Water Superintendent Tim Clark said phosphates accumulate at the end of the water line where Wells lives and that, due to continuous water breaks last year, the department had not been able to flush lines as often as normal.

After considerable discussion, the board agreed to purchase an automatic flusher which should help the situation.

Also addressing the board was Jack McIlvain on behalf of the East Liverpool Country Club regarding a $3,200 water bill he said is greater than the average $1,500 summer bill. The cause has not been pinpointed.

He was advised a hearing has been scheduled to appeal the bill, with Disch saying that, sometimes, the cause of a high bill is never determined.

Clark reported on his recent proposal to City Council to increase the starting wage for water and sewer superintendents to help attract more candidates, describing council members as “mildly distressed” about his request and saying they expressed concerns about deficiencies in road repairs done by utility departments.

Disch agreed to speak again with council’s finance chairman about the issue, with Mayor Jim Swoger again suggesting that council be asked to allow the BPU to set its own wages.

In other personnel matters, board members discussed briefly the feasibility of hiring some part-time workers who could help with street repairs, with no decisions made but with questions raised whether council would have to authorize such hirings and whether they would cause problems with city unions.