Forgotten legislation would implement new sewer fee

by Sue Serdinak

March 5 village council meeting

Richfield Village’s main sewer line was installed along Brecksville Road in 1991 to bring business development to the community. The plan was for income tax revenue from businesses to fund the government. Businesses did come, bringing in enough tax dollars to allow the village to operate without levies for over 30 years.

Since 1991, the sewer line has expanded to residential areas, eliminating faulty septic systems. All effluent from the entire village now flows into the Brecksville Road sewer line and through the pump station near Townsend Road. The effluent then flows north, to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in Brecksville.

The Townsend Road pump station failed several times in recent years, requiring expensive repairs. It has been determined the facility needs to be replaced at an estimated cost of $2.7 million.

Finance Director Sandy Turk said the village would have to borrow money to pay for a new pump station.

Service Director Scott Waldemarson found legislation passed by council in 1996 that would charge property owners an annual fee of 20 cents per linear foot of sewer line on their property. According to the legislation, “proceeds [from the fee] shall be set aside in a separate account for major repair and replacement of the Village’s sanitary sewer system for ongoing maintenance of the sewer system.”

“If we had been collecting this money along the way, we would have had the money to help pay for this [replacement],” said Waldemarson.

“[The 1996] council acted, but it was not followed up on by the other entities,” said Councilperson Rick Hudak.

“As the current council, we should get this in gear to pay for future repairs,’’ said Councilperson Jeff Stoppenhagen. “It baffles me that this has not been enacted for almost 30 years.” 

“The administrations subsequent to this passage, during Mayor [Don] Larsen’s term, were trying not to impact users of the sewer system.  We were happy and proud to exist primarily on income tax,” Council President Ralph Waszak explained. “If the village desires to implement this fee, they could. The main line is 33 years old. We’ve expended considerable money repairing it. And it is just going to continue.”

Mayor Michael Wheeler was attending a mayor’s convention and absent for this meeting.

“It is important that we give people a heads up and time to prepare for this,’’ Councilperson Sue Ann Philippbar cautioned. “I’m getting a lot of questions about the water metering [that is being required] for the sewer system.  Maybe we need to put this out in the paper.”

Grant Street closing

The mayor, council, the fire chief and the zoning director continue to discuss the possibility of closing the south end of Grant Street, either totally or partially.

The village has enlisted the help of planner Rob Morgan to provide possible plans. He will present those plans by the beginning of May.

Planning Director Brian Frantz asked council to pass legislation to hire a contractor to build the timber frame pavilion on the Green. The original legislation estimated the cost at $100,000. Frantz said the new estimate is $133,298. Council approved the legislation.

Temporary signs smaller

Free speech laws in the United States allow anything to be displayed on a temporary sign, regardless of how offensive it might be. The law also says that restrictions on the size of a sign must be uniform in a municipality.

The planning commission recommended the limit for all signs be 32 square feet. In the past the limit was 30. This does not apply to business signs, which fall under a different category.

Philippbar said at a previous meeting she would like to reduce the allowable size of all temporary signs in the village.  She suggested that signs be limited to 12 square feet. She added that no surrounding communities allow larger signs.

Council members referenced the large political signs posted throughout the community before the November election.

“The smaller the better,” said Councilperson Jeff Stoppenhagen.

“I agree,” said Councilperson Marty Kryszynski.

Council unanimously voted to restrict all non-business signs to 12 square feet.

12-hour shifts

Council read a resolution that would allow the police to work 12-hour shifts. Police Chief Michael Swanson said 12-hour shifts are more efficient in operating a 24/7/365 system and should reduce overtime.

He said many of the officers already work the longer shift to fill in when a slot is open. The department tries to maintain three officers per shift to have officer backup and community-wide coverage.

Swanson said there are no staffing minimums. He said that fatigue is a major concern with longer shifts.

The Fraternal Order of Police has not yet expressed an opinion. ∞