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Avon residents upset with Council over sanitary sewer fees

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AVON — French Creek Road residents left the City Council meeting more confused and frustrated than when they came in Monday evening.

The residents were upset with Council members over the final reading and passage of a plan to construct a 2,400-foot sanity sewer from 38151 to 37556 French Creek Road. The project, however, would cost the households of each of the 35 properties from $15,000 to $20,000.

The new line will allow for an outdated sanitary sewerage pump station on French Creek Road to be removed.

City Finance Director Bill Logan said the project has been in the works for a few years, and the city has been struggling with the old pump station as it has become hard to maintain.

But the expense rankled some residents.

Jeanne Timko, 66, who lives in the affected area, said she learned about the assessment two weeks ago at the last City Council meeting. She joined other residents at Monday’s meeting.

Timko said she bought the house five years ago with her husband, who died a year later. Since then, she has been surviving on income from her pension, Social Security checks and other benefits that total about $2,000 a month. With medication, mortgage and car payments, she feels it will take every bit of money she has to remain as a resident or she’ll need to move out of her home.

“I’m upset by the fact that this is happening at all, when (my husband and I) bought this house, I didn’t expect to have to pay for sewer (construction),” she said after the meeting.

They bought the house for about $90,000, but it cost an additional $30,000 to fix it up, she said. If she knew about the assessment beforehand, Timko said she wouldn’t have put that much money into the renovation costs.

Property owners will have to pay a nearly $6,000 assessment for the line construction, but that cost can be spread over 20 years. Most households would pay $288.51 annually and payments wouldn’t begin until probably 2021, Logan said.

In addition, residents would have to pay about $5,000 for a tap-in fee for use of the sewer system.

Logan said Council is looking to pass a resolution to help on the tap-in fee, spreading it out over 10 years rather than the 20 for the assessment. That discussion most likely will take place at the next Finance committee meeting in April.

Residents also will need to factor in the cost of hiring a contractor to do a lateral connection to the new sewer, estimated to be charged $45 per linear foot. For example, 100 feet would cost each property owner about $4,500. Another cost will be sealing or shutting off the home’s connection to their septic tanks, roughly $3,000, according to City Engineer Ryan Cummins.

Logan emphasized that the cost of the fees and expenses are only estimates and could change in the future, but not dramatically.

Logan said he realizes it is expensive, but it is expected to benefit environmentally, hygienically and sometime in the future, a financial investment.

“It’s a cost, it’s an expense, but it’s in the value of the home, and you can expect it will increase your home’s property value connected to the sewer system,” he said.

Logan said all residents were mailed documentation in March about the issue on the Council’s agenda. Timko said she didn’t receive any documentation like that. The item has been on the City Council agenda for three readings since the March 11 meeting.

Also Monday, residents complained to Council that Avon Oaks Nursing Home, 37800 French Creek Road, wasn’t mentioned in paying any fees. Logan explained the nursing home, much like a large majority of the city, already is connected to the sewer system and has been paying the fees the residents will just begin paying.

Councilwoman at-large Tammy Holtzmeier promised support in helping residents learn all their options in finding a way to afford the project.

“Your comments do not fall on deaf ears, we have reviewed this for weeks and we have had many conversations, so if this does not appear that we are not asking a lot tonight, it’s because we are at the tail end and many questions have already been asked,” she said.

To learn if a property is within the assessment area, visit www.cityofavon.com and download the agenda for the April 8 Council meeting.

Contact Bruce Walton at (440) 329-7123 or bwalton@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Facebook @BWalton440 or Twitter @BruceWalton.


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