RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
NEW BOSTON — The New Boston Village Council has directed Village Solicitor Walter Lytten to schedule separate meetings with the City of Portsmouth and Scioto County engineers to discuss sewer revenue options. The village needs to find a source of revenue to help afford sewer maintenance and upgrades being enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The problem dates back to 1991, when the village and city signed a 30-year contract agreeing that New Boston would maintain all of the sewer lines that pass through the village, and the city would maintain all of the sewer lift stations, and the village would receive no revenue from the city sewer rates.
Since that time, the city has added more sewer customers on Pleasant Avenue, and Scioto County engineers are planning a sewer project on Munn’s Run in Eden Park that will pay the city to run through those village sewer lines. The village says these customers weren’t part of the original agreement and are adding more stress to their lines — which they then have to maintain with no revenue.
To adjust for the increased use, New Boston is asking Portsmouth for 10 percent of the total sewage fees collected on New Boston residents. Village Administrator Steve Hamilton said New Boston residents paid $300,000 in sewage fees to the city of Portsmouth last year, and 10 percent would be $30,000.
“It’s only fair to the village,” Hamilton said.
Portsmouth Wastewater Director Rick Duncan said he does not believe the city is in violation of their agreement, but he is willing to meet with village officials. Any agreement, he said, would have to go through Portsmouth City Council. In regards to the added flow from Munn’s Run, Duncan said the county, city and village already formed an agreement last year that would allow New Boston to collect a portion of the revenue paid to the city for those lines.
Hamilton said the city has also proposed a stormwater fee on all customers. New Boston already has its own stormwater system, and Hamilton said it wouldn’t be fair for Portsmouth to collect any stormwater fees from New Boston customers who are already paying a larger percentage of their median household income than are city residents.
“I’m going to fight that tooth and nail,” Hamilton said. “If they want to collect off them, we should get 100 percent of the revenue, except maybe a little bit for the paperwork they put on their water bill.”
Earlier this year the EPA ordered New Boston to develop a sewer control plan to address the problem of too many combined sewer overflows (CSO). Without revenue, the village argued, they could not afford any of the required upgrades. The EPA told the village funding assistance might be available, if they can first show a source of revenue.
“It’s like when you go to the bank and get a car and you don’t have a job. They’re not going to give you the loan,” Hamilton said.
New Boston Village Council asked Lytten to schedule a meeting with the city and with county engineers. A representative from the EPA will also attend the meetings, and will mediate if necessary.
“I look forward to meeting with them, and trying to address their concerns,” Duncan said.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.