Households to pay $1 more for sewage

LISBON — The 2,100 households hooked into Columbiana County’s sewage system will begin paying a dollar more per month to cover rising administrative fees.

County commissioners on Wednesday approved the increase requested by the county’s water and sewer department, which is part of the county engineer’s office. Troy Graft, chief deputy county sanitary engineer, said the extra $2,100 per month is needed to keep pace with the extra paperwork required by the state and federal regulators.

“There’s just been a lot of administrative paperwork — reports, permit renewals — and it’s ongoing. There’s just a lot more clerical work involved in operating sewer plants,” he said.

The county provides sewer services to 2,100 customers in Guilford Lake, Winona, Kensington and portions of Center, Liverpool, St. Clair and Yellow Creek townships. The increase is not expected to begin showing up in bills for a month or so.

Commissioners also approved imposing penalties for those delinquent on their sewer bills, with the fee attached to their property tax bills.

The delinquency rate was about 17 percent the last time Graft checked, but he said the bigger problems are those customers who choose not to pay their bills in a timely manner because there is no late penalty.

“There are some who simply chose not to pay except once a year,” he said, adding this negatively impacts the sewer department’s monthly cash flow.

Under the new policy, any delinquencies of a $1,000 or less will be assessed a $50 penalty. The penalty will be $100 for any delinquencies in excess of $1,000.

Graft said they recently began accepting credit cards, “and we’re thinking it my help.”

In other action at the meeting, commissioners:

— Reappointed Vicki Hall to the county Revolving Loan Fund board.

— Gave Mike and Christine Ecrement permission to hunt on county property off County Home Road in Center Township.

Commissioner Tim Weigle reminded the public following last Sunday’s storms there is a way to be alerted in advance on their cellphone when a bad storm system is heading in their direction. He said anyone interested in receiving the group alerts can contact the county Emergency Management Agency.