MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County commissioners met Wednesday with Jim Fox on behalf of five residents living on Columbus Road in Fredericktown. The discussion was on the 60 percent sewer surcharge paid by residents not residing within the village limits but are connected to the village sewer system. The residences are considered a part of the Knox County Sewer District and pay the fee for maintenance and up-keep of the system.
Under the 1971 agreement between the village of Fredericktown and the county to accept a government grant for the sewer service, it is stated that the rate charge to residents outside the village limit was to be the same for those within the village.
Commissioner Allen Stockberger explained that years ago when a government grant was obtained to construct the sanitary sewer system, a part of the stipulation for accepting the grant was that no surcharge could be placed to those that used its service.
However, in 1987, a new agreement was made for all premises served outside the village limits requiring them to pay a service charge of 45 percent to the village and 15 percent to the county, but this would exclude residents located in areas of East Moundvale and West Moundvale.
Stockberger said, some years later from the original agreement a problem arose with a pump station failing in Moundvale and since it was not in the village, it was the county’s responsibility to replace it. Typically, the county imposes a surcharge which is put into escrow for repair and replacement costs for projects such as this.
“But we were a bit surprised when we discovered there were not any surcharges in that area so we didn’t have any revenue to actually do [the replacement],” said Stockberger.
The county then worked with the village to fix the pump and an agreement was formed to annex the Moundvale area to the village.
In doing so, a surcharge was implemented but did not require Moundvale to pay because it was now considered a part of the village, but all other areas outside village limits were required to pay the fee.
“My belief is that the contract that was written between the village and the county could be in error, in that, if you were in the original sewer district you shouldn’t have to pay the surcharge,” said Fox. “In the original contract it stated there will be no surcharge whether you’re in the city or outside the city.”
The five properties on Columbus Road have been paying the surcharge for about 10 years, and have been in contact with the village of Fredericktown in discussion of the matter, but since they are outside of the limits, were referred to the county.
“When the line went in, the five properties paid the assessment [fees] for the sewer,” said Fox, stressing they should also be exempt from paying the surcharge. He said the property owners are not inclined to be annexed into the village.
“The surcharge is more of a maintenance than an assessment; however, I was not aware that these properties had paid an assessment,” said Stockberger.
“But I agreed that the contract you wrote with the [village] says that any new tie-ins into the sewer will have to pay the surcharge but I wouldn’t consider this a new tie-in,” said Fox
“I want to understand this correctly that since these five properties were covered under the original 1971 agreement, you feel as they are grandfathered through,” asked Stockberger.
The commissioners agreed that further information will be gathered and discussed before a decision is rendered.