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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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        A bill pending in the Ohio House of Representatives that would impose penalties on municipalities that charge higher sewer or water rates outside their corporation limits than they charge users within their boundaries has drawn the endorsement of the director of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District.

        Jerry Greiner said he supports House Bill 602, named the The Clean Water Fair Pricing Act, because it would stop “an unfair practice that is used throughout the state.”

        “State tax dollars, paid by all tax payers, may have been used by the host city to build excess water or sewer capacity, and some of those same tax payers are paying again through higher utility costs charged to users living outside the city limits, “ Greiner said. “Residents of surrounding townships and other communities who buy these services have no choice but to pay these higher costs.”

        The district contracts with the City of Toledo to purchase water for users in Rossford, Perrysburg, Perrysburg Township, a portion of Northwood, Walbridge, Lake Township and Troy Township.  It also contracts with the City of Oregon to provide water for the eastern portion of Northwood, portions of Lake Township and Millbury. 

        HB 602 establishes penalties for municipalities that set higher charges, including a 20 percent reduction in a municipality’s share of Local Government Funds. It also renders the municipality ineligible for state water and sewer development assistance.

        Under certain conditions, a municipality could forfeit its entire share of Local Government Funds as well as become ineligible for state water/sewer development monies.

        Forfeited LGF revenue would be redistributed to subdivisions affected by the higher rates but the revenue could be restored if the municipal corporation enters into a qualifying area waste treatment plan.

        “We think this legislation is appropriate and timely as the region considers long-term water options. Higher water and sewer bills for external customers are not necessary should this legislation be approved,” Greiner said.

        Representative Mike Duffey, R- Worthington, introduced the bill in April and provided sponsor testimony last month before the House finance committee.

        Duffey told the committee some cities charge township residents 50 percent or higher prices as well as use water and sewer service to force annexation or require income tax revenue sharing on development projects.

        “The result is many townships refuse to connect, leaving many residents with backyard septic systems that are a known cause of river pollution and public well pollution,” he told the committee.

        The bill requires a municipality that accepts state funding for water and sewer upgrades “be prohibited from discriminating against customers based solely on where they live,” he said. “If a city does not want to rely upon state and/or federal money, then they may charge whatever price they wish. But the State of Ohio would also not be involved in allocating state taxpayer dollars to cities who choose to openly discriminate against other State of Ohio taxpayers.”

        Matthew DeTemple, executive director of the Ohio Township Association, also provided proponent testimony to the committee.

        “All local governments should have the authority to offer water and sewer services to their residents or, at the very least, facilities built wholly or partially with federal or state funds should be available to all people who live in the service areas regardless of the jurisdiction in which they reside,” he said.

       

 

 

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