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Local Business Questions Huge Rate Hikes

Windham Village council met for their regularly scheduled meeting in council chambers at village hall.  Council members in attendance were Rachel Barrett, Scott Garrett, Kelly Meszaros, and Jena Miranda. Council member Phil Snyder was away for a family emergency. Fiscal officer Lloyd Billman reported that the expenditures for January were $ 150,437.91 and the bank reconciliation for January with an all-funds reconciled balance of $561,620.73.

Council president requested an executive session to discuss personnel issues. Council members returned from the executive session after a half hour with no business to vote on from the session.

The board had a prior request from Mr. Dave Apthorpe who is the plant manager for Harbison Walker. Mr. Apthorpe had concerns over new water and sewer rate the village instituted last month. Apthorpe claimed the company’s previous consumption was 685,000 gallons for a month and their bill was $5,768.89. This last month they used 615,000 gallons and were billed $11,838.75. Apthorpe complained that this was double his previous bill for fewer  gallons used. Mayor Rob Donham stated that they re-configured how they bill water and sewer rates to make them more fair. In the past everyone was billed for minimum usage and those who were single or used less water were being billed for water they didn’t use or need. The rates are now billed per 1000 gallons used. The new rates would encourage conservation and equalize the injustice for the low volume users. In the past many residents who used the least amount were funding those who used the most water like the area businesses. Mr. Apthorpe complained that this was a 125% increase and what was he supposed to tell the corporate head why his budget he submitted for the year won’t work. The mayor explained that this was how it was going to be and suggested they look at ways to use less water or loop their water so they could re-use it to reduce their cost.  (Harbison’s large consumption of water is used to cool their machinery.) Donham also offered administrative help to explain to Harbison’s corporate head why the bills have increased.

Paul Blewitt also had a prior request to speak. He was questioning the village’s hiring practices. He wanted to know what it took to get an interview, if and when they actually advertised the position and if they interviewed applicants for the full-time temporary labor position at the water plant. The mayor responded by saying they don’t disclose personnel issues to the public,  however they follow the guidelines set by the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and the codified ordinances of the village. After some bantering back and forth the mayor stated that they did interview some of the applicants and they hired the best candidate for the position.

In other business, council authorized the purchase of a 2007 Crown Victoria Police Cruiser. The action ratified the authority council gave the police chief at a previous meeting to purchase a cruiser. Council also approved the carry-over of the balance of the police chief’s sick leave hours from the State of Ohio Department of Mental Health at Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare where he had been previous employed. They also adopted the new sewer rates, tabled the adoption of the water rates and tabled a contract with Glacial Energy of Ohio Inc and the contract with the Library. The contracts were tabled so their legal counsel could make changes to the verbiage of the contracts. Lastly Cecelia Swanson from the Portage County Library thanked council for helping them relocate to another facility in the village. She also inquired about the further use of the structure only so they knew how much they needed to dismantle, clean etc. The mayor told her to leave what they wanted and they would take care of it since it appears that the building that housed the library will probably be demolished. The village council meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the village hall.

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