MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Water and Wastewater Superintendent Ron Simpson and County Assistant Prosecutor Charles McConville met with the Board of Commissioners Thursday morning to review the sewer services contract the county has with the village of Centerburg. The contract was referenced because Simpson had noted previously that this year’s maintenance costs on the Centerburg system had superseded the proceeds from the village. In the process of examining the contract, McConville noted that it expired a year ago and will need to be renegotiated.
The original contract, negotiated in 1998, imposed a 100 percent surcharge on top of the service cost, with 30 percent of that automatically going to the county to cover lift station maintenance costs, with the remaining 70 percent going to Centerburg. Commissioner Allen Stockberger, who was on the Board of Commissioners at the time of the original contract negotiation, said that the surcharge was put in place to encourage annexation of the Centerburg sewer system into the countywide system. That never came to pass, and the 10-year contract expired in 2008.
McConville said that the contract appeared to have been written with annexation in mind, and that it is no longer ideal for the county. He also pointed out the age of the system and the increasing probability of problems developing as it ages, which becomes a liability to the county. The commissioners asked McConville to draft a new contract for them to take to their meeting with Centerburg officials on Oct. 5.
The commissioners also reviewed a couple of project issues with Simpson. The first involved a job change order that Simpson had turned in for the sidewalk project in Howard. Simpson said a Howard Township trustee had approved the change on the order and that the additional costs incurred by the change would be covered by the township. Stockberger said that he would not sign off on it until it was confirmed by two trustees. He said that he had gotten burned once before in a situation where one trustee from a township approved something without formal approval from the other trustees. Simpson said he would get the additional approval.
The second issue involved a work change on the Apple Valley water storage tank project, engineered by Richland Engineering. The original specifications called for attachment to the system with an 8-inch diameter pipe. The actual size pipe needed will be 12 inches. The size change, multiplied by the 150-feet length of the trench needed to connect to the system means that the additional cost will be over $6,000 more.
Stockberger was not happy.
“That’s why we pay for all this engineering, to catch things like that,” Stockberger said. He asked Simpson if he thought it was an oversight by the engineers. Simpson said that as far as he could tell, the engineers had not noticed the different sizes in pipe hookups. Stockberger eventually signed the work change order, because the change was necessary to install the lines.
Another issue regarded paying ADR & Associates for the first phase of engineering the Little Jelloway transfer station project. Simpson said that paying the $327,000 in engineering fees to ADR would bring his projects fund down to just over $100,000 at a time when five 35-year-old lift stations were in need of replacements because spare parts are getting hard to find.
“That doesn’t allow much of a cushion if we have a major problem arise,” Simpson said.
The commissioners telephoned ADR and asked them to explore the options for grants and low or no-interest loans from the Ohio Public Works Commission to keep the county from dropping to an insufficient level in the water department’s project fund.
In other business, McConville advised county departments on furlough days, a maximum 20 of which could be taken in one year. McConville said that furlough days can be used in place of paid holidays, and can also run concurrent with an employee out of the office under conditions outlined in the Family Medical Leave Act. He said that furlough days would still count toward sick leave and retirement and that fractional furlough days are allowed as well.
Commissioners Clerk Rochelle Shackle continued attempting to comply with Federal Emergency Management Authority requirements to fill out a P-4 form wrapping up documentation of the federal government’s assistance to Knox County in the cleanup that followed last year’s September hurricane. Shackle has filled out and returned the form to FEMA three times thus far this year. She was appalled to receive yet another copy of the form Thursday. This time she faxed the blank form back to FEMA with only a “see attached” note, followed by the three previous attempts to finish the paperwork. FEMA had no immediate response.