Line may get more costly

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners and the county Board of Developmental Disabilities may have to pay more than anticipated for a recently installed waterline unless one of the proposed beneficiaries of the project changes its mind about becoming a customer.

The new county waterline run to the County Home Road area in Center Township was supposed to serve the following government agencies located there: the BDD and sheltered workshop, the county sheriff’s office/jail complex, county dog pound, and the county juvenile detention facility operated by the Multi-County Juvenile Attention System (MCJAS). The water is purchased by the county from Salem via a nearby Salem waterline that runs just north of the area.

When the county announced last week the project had been completed, county Engineer Bert Dawson said the MCJAS had opted against hooking into the waterline at this time, apparently for financial reasons.

When the $786,000 project was undertaken several years ago it was with the understanding the above mentioned agencies would be charged water rates needed to make the annual loan repayment and pay Salem. The juvenile detention facility, more commonly known as the Tobin Center, was expected to join the system and pay $7,743 a year of the estimated $79,009 annual costs, or 9.8 percent. Without the Tobin Center’s participation, the county and BDD will have to pay higher rates to make up for the $7,743 per year.

The project was undertaken with the assumption the MCJAS was on board, but commissioners, who are members of the MCJAS, found out much later that was not the case.

Dawson said the 30-year state loan funding most of the project is interest-free, and they are hoping to use this fact to persuade the MCJAS to reconsider. “If not, we’re probably going to have to charge a bit more on the usage side,” he said.

The county is also in the process of completing construction of a mini-sewage treatment plant on County Home Road to serve the same agencies, but in this case the Tobin Center will hook in. The reason is that unlike water service, households and businesses are required by law to hook into a sewer line when sewer service is available.