West Milton plans water, sewer rate increases

By Matt Clevenger

For the Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — The village of West Milton is planning to raise water and sewer rates starting Sept. 1, including a 10% increase in sewer rates and a 17-20% increase in water rates.

“No manager wishes to raise rates unless they absolutely have to,” Municipal Manager Jeff Sheridan said. “Our water fund would be in the red by the end of this year if we didn’t take action.”

Council members discussed the rate increases during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, June 14. Council members also heard the first reading of two ordinances that would approve the proposed increases, with automatic 2% increases annually.

Along with increased maintenance costs, the village is also facing several expensive water and sewer projects, including re-lining underground pipes to prevent water leakage. Repairs are also needed at the village’s north water tower, and the village may also need to build a whole new sewage treatment plant in the next few years.

“It’s not been increased over time, so these rates have kind of fallen behind,” Mayor Anthony Miller said. “I know we are looking at some type of replacement for the sewage treatment plant coming up.”

“We don’t want to have to increase anything, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” council member Sarah Copp said. “You have to fix stuff.”

“We have had a rate study that showed us we need some significant rate increases,” Sheridan said. “No further rate increases are considered for at least three years.”

Council members will vote on the proposed increases after the ordinance receives a second reading.

In other business, council members also approved a cooperative agreement with the Ohio Water Development Authority to help fund upcoming repairs to the north water tower with a 0% interest loan.

“This was not in the budget,” Sheridan said. “There was a very short deadline to apply for these funds. Because Jill (Grise) and Ben (Herron) did such a great job, we got it submitted and accepted, and now we’ll have a 0% loan.”

Council members also heard the first reading of an ordinance to approve the re-zoning of approximately 94.168 acres on the north side of State Route 571, from A-1 agricultural district to PUD, planned unit development.

“This is a routine step in our development process,” Sheridan said.

Council members also heard the first reading of an ordinance to maintain the village’s current fireworks regulations, in response to H.B. 172.

Under the proposed regulations, possession of fireworks would remain illegal and “ordinances that regulate noise, disturbance of the peace and disorderly conduct will remain in full force and effect regardless of the permission granted in H.B. 172.”

“I know we’ve had at least two discussions during workshops where we talked about it,” Miller said. “We heard from the police chief, who supports this, as well as the fire chief.”

“I’d probably be a yes, if possession wasn’t in there,” council member Chris Horn said.

“I’m really on the fence about it, too,” Copp said. “The people who want to set off the gigantic fireworks are going to do it no matter what. It doesn’t deter them.”

“That possession piece is the struggle for me,” council member Don Dorman said. “In the state of Ohio, we’re allowed to own firearms; we’re allowed to possess them, but at the local level we are not allowed to discharge them in town. But it’s not illegal to have them in town; it’s not illegal to have them in your home, it’s not illegal to transport them within the law. They are a nuisance, they can be dangerous, but yet we are allowed to have them.”

“This is the enforcement mechanism,” Miller said. “We will have the vote on that at the second reading.”

Village council’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28.