Leetonia considers gas aggregation vote

LEETONIA – Village Council will consider asking residents to approve joining a gas aggregate on the November ballot.

Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. July 30 at Village Hall to vote on whether to place the issue on the ballot. Half of council met before regular session June 18 and elected not to pursue the issue because they said they did not feel comfortable going to residents without knowing how much the residents could save through the aggregation.

If approved by voters council would be able to join the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC), a non-profit group that has a six-year cooperative purchasing agreement with NextEra Energy Resources to supply natural gas to customers using 500 cubic feet per year. The company is projecting 75 percent of the supply to be from local Utica gas by the end of the six years.

Residents will save money on the supply portion of their bills and be able to opt out or in at anytime at no cost.

Brenda Fargo, manager of NOPEC, who originally pitched the program to council a month ago, returned to assure council that if the issue were to pass, there would be no obligation to join NOPEC. She also noted that if council places the issue on the ballot, NOPEC will be able to provide the gas price for when the program will begin in March, and added that since January 2010 NextEra has consistently been below market price.

In other business council member Sue Buchanan expressed displeasure with the performance of Zoning Inspector John Rydarowicz after resident Linda Lutz suggested zoning laws are not being enforced regarding the proposed group home at the former Presbyterian church at High and Elm streets, particularly the parking lot.

Buchanan said that in addition to concerns regarding the group home, progress is not being made to clean up the village, noting high weeds and a couch in a front yard, as well as a dilapidated property remaining in the midst of apparent repair.

“We need action, not legislation,” she said.

Within the past two years, council approved registration ordinances for foreclosure properties and rental units proposed by Rydarowicz, but rejected a vacant building registration.

“He’s not doing his job or he’s not doing a good job,” Lutz concluded.

Following the discussion Buchanan asked for an executive session to discuss personnel.

Also at the meeting council approved $3,595.23 plus shipping for the purchase of a split rail fence from Keystone Fencing for the Coke Ovens, hired Joshua Kruegel as a part-time dispatcher and approved $7,500 for five EMS members to attend advanced training.

Additionally council member Kevin Siembida reported that the Bigfoot festival last month generated $4,000.

Council will meet in special session at 6:30 p.m. July 30. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at Village Hall.