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Rising Elyria city costs require extra funding

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ELYRIA — Costs are increasing for some services and projects in the works throughout the city, City Council’s Finance Committee learned this week.

Several department heads said they will require extra money to complete projects, sign contracts or put other projects out to bid in the near future. The committee approved all the requests, though final approval will require action by full Council.

In one case, an additional $112,000 is needed for the settling tank improvement project at Elyria’s Wastewater Pollution Control Plant. City Council previously approved $775,000 for the project.

Bids for the project were “higher than expected,” City Engineer John Schneider told the committee, which voted to send a new “not-to-exceed” amount of $887,000 to full Council.

The committee also voted to recommend bidding out and awarding a new contract for billing services for the Elyria Public Utilities Department. The city’s contracted billing company, Utilitec, is in the final two months of a three-year contract that expires March 15, the committee learned.

Every month, the city sends out 22,000 pieces of mail to water customers. Printing, mailing, inserts and postage for water bills cost the city $130,000 annually, and postage costs will increase in the future, the committee learned.

Only a “small percentage” of the city’s utility customers pay their bills online, Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said.

On Siwierka’s recommendation, the committee also forwarded to full Council a request for the purchase of a new Ford dump truck for the Water Distribution Division at a cost of $114,000 through a state purchasing program.

The new truck will replace a 1993 dump truck in service. New trucks such as these are in high demand and have “an extremely long lead time” for manufacturing, Siwierka said, so the truck likely will not be in service until early fall.

The committee also recommended for further action a request to place demolition liens on property at 257 Washington Ave. and 1258 East Ave. after buildings at each of those locations were taken down at the city’s expense.

Assistant Safety Service Director Kevin Brubaker said the foundation at 257 Washington Ave. was bad and there was water damage throughout — along with $30,000 in delinquent water bills, he said. That demolition cost the city $31,300, Brubaker said.

The demolition of 1258 East Ave. cost the city $13,790, though a majority of that cost was recouped from an insurance company, he said. Last year, the city demolished 11 houses using general fund money, Brubaker said.

Additionally, the Elyria Parks and Recreation Department received preliminary approval to use $300,000 of its $1 million share of Issue 6 money to renovate the entranceway to the North Park recreational facility at 901 Duffey St.

Parks and Recreation Director Carrie Reardon told the committee plans for renovations still are “very preliminary,” and the work has yet to be engineered or bid out. The recreational facility houses the city’s ice arena and pool.

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.
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