Bethel to hear from two firms on new village hall

January 11th, 2007    Author: Rodney Beckwith    Filed Under: News

The Bethel Village Council met Monday and discussed leveling the playing field for the owners of an apartment complex in the village.

According to Michael Shiverski, Bethel village administrator, a property recently purchased by a Missouri company is being charged a commercial rate for water when it should be charged the lower residential rate.

“The new owner is Yarco Company and they are out of Kansas City, Missouri,” said Shiverki. “The purchased the property in July of 2006 along with a property in Owensville. They compared water rates and Bethel was much higher because the village is charging a commercial rate rather than a residential rate, although it is all residential properties. The reason behind that was it was rumored the past owners would charge up the water rate after they bought it from the village. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.”

Shiverski said that the village could opt to revert billing back to a residential rate, or even require Yarco to sign an agreement not to add to the cost of the water they purchase from the village.

“The solicitor and I discussed that, if we had some documentation from Yarco saying that they wouldn’t mark it up, would council be willing to charge the residential rate,” said Shiverski.

Councilman John Swarthout, who chairs the finance committee, said that the committee saw no problem with allowing the rate change, especially if the new owner agreed not to hike rates for their tenants. Solicitor George Leicht said that a minimal hike is reasonable, given that they have to maintain the equipment on their property.

"They are doing individual billing," said Leicht. "I think we should allow them some modest surcharge for maintaining the equipment. A previous village clerk and the board of public affairs agreed that the property owners were selling the water, so they charged them that commercial rate. It looks like that problem is gone. If that's gone, we should allow them a surcharge. There will be something because somebody has to read the meters and bill these people. Let's assume these are people of good faith."

The council also learned that hard work on behalf of some planning commission members will result in a new set of rules for a village housing maintenance code, which should be finished soon. The code is designed to help the village enforce some basic maintenance issues, such as some structural issues and appearance issues as well.

"Hopefully, we can have these in place in a month or so," said Councilwoman Donna Gunn. "Then, we can get the village cleaned up."

The village also had a first reading on two ordinances that would apply for grants to make improvements to village park areas. The first is a grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that would widen the Bethel walking trail to eight feet wide at all points and repave the parking lot of the concession stand along the trail. A second grant to the ODNR would create a skate park in Burke Park. The village council will also hear two presentations at the Jan. 23 meeting concerning design of the new Bethel municipal building.
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