Big price tag for mandated water treatment plant and line repair - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Big price tag for mandated water treatment plant and line repairs in Campbell

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For decades, people in Campbell have fought to keep a fixed asset, the city's water treatment plant and it's water lines. But the price tag of keeping the system is high.

At a town hall meeting on Saturday, Mayor Nick Phillips told water customers the EPA has mandated upgrades to the plant built 45 years ago.

"You're looking at changing water lines throughout the city, you're looking at upgrading the plant, you're looking at upgrading the treatment system. So there are a lot of factors here," said Phillips.

C-T Consultants estimates the total cost will be almost $20 million over 10 years and $27.9 million over 20 years.

"There are three options. The city can either borrow the money and go to taxpayers, buy treated water from a supplier, or sell the plant," said Mayor Phillips. 

In the past year, Aqua Ohio offered to buy the facility and its lines for $7 million.

The company also said it would make sure water employees would still have jobs and emphasized the company would assume responsibility for the plant and lines and make required improvements.

"Under the Aqua Struthers division rates, the average residential customer in Campbell would see a $10.30 reduction under Aqua's current rates through 2021," said Jennifer Johnson of Aqua Ohio. "We have lower rates than Campbell because we spread the fixed costs over more customers. We serve about 19,000 customers. We have been long-term partners as a provider of their water. We approached them about a year ago about buying the water treatment plant. The city must decide what is best for its residents.  Over 10 years there has been a 4.4 increase annually in our rates. We will put in a bid if the city decides to sell."

Campbell officials told the crowd that Youngstown and Aqua Ohio have expressed an interest in buying the water treatment plant.

But some residents believe the savings will be wiped out by future rate hikes.  "If they get control, rates are going to go up. You can mark my words. The city will be forced to do just that. I have heard people complain about their water rates." said Joe Cuba who lives in Campbell.

Others also don't want to see the city sell but others believe the city will be forced to do just that.

Linda Badila said, "Campbell is not a wealthy community. A rate hike of any sort is going to be a burden on people even if they must pay an extra $20 or $30 a month."

 "The study showed that financing a loan is expected to hike people's water rates to $80 a month per household based on a 4,000-gallon water use," said Mayor Phillips.

The mayor added that council members will vote on their decisions next Wednesday.

Council meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of each month.

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