Sewer charges remain at the forefront of council meeting

by Sue Serdinak

June 18 village council meeting

Even though Richfield Village officials and staff are moving forward on several large projects that will greatly impact the community, sewers and their associated rates have brought dozens of residents to council meetings for the past four months.

After inspections repeatedly showed that Richfield’s main sewer line is failing and $2.7 million in repairs are needed, Finance Director Sandy Turk secured a loan for the work.

Almost simultaneously, Service Director Scott Waldemarson found 1996 council legislation that would charge properties on the sewer line a linear-foot charge in addition to a rate charge. Administrations of Don Larsen, Mike Lyons, Bobbie Beshara and Michael Wheeler never implemented the charges to offset maintenance costs.

In 2016 and 2018, during Beshara’s term as mayor, Arcadis and GPD engineering firms recommended requiring meters for properties connected to the sewer system. The study also recommended increasing the rate charged for sewer services rather than instituting a linear-foot charge. No legislation was brought forward to do either.

In December 2023, council passed legislation requiring that meters be installed on every property on the sewer line. Property owners could purchase the meters from the village for about $200 but would have to install them, or hire a plumber to do it.

Residents became more involved in March when the mayor and finance director proposed moving forward with the 1996 linear foot charge, including an inflationary factor.

One resident spoke at every council meeting deriding the administration and council, insisting the elected officials communicate more clearly and hold a public meeting on the sewer issue.

Resident Nagwa Ahlborg spoke against instituting a linear-foot charge because it would be unfair to residents with a wide frontage. She also said the village has not sent property owners anything about the requirement for meters.

Council President Ralph Waszak said the meters were delayed in shipping, and the deadline to install them would be extended to early 2025.

Changing course

After hours of debate and discussion, Waszak scheduled a public works committee meeting. Waszak chaired the meeting and council members Sue Ann Philippbar and Rick Hudak (remotely), the village engineer and several staff members attended. The engineer again recommended implementing a usage-rate increase rather than a linear-foot charge.

As a result of the meeting, Waszak announced he is recommending canceling the linear charge and introduced new legislation to increase the sewer rate charge from $28.33 per MCF (thousand cubic feet) to $42. The NEORSD fee of $120.45 per MCF is also part of customers’ sewer fee.

The increased rate would generate $191,380 annually for the village.

Waszak said the legislation would have three readings before a council vote.

“We absolutely have to raise the fee,” Wheeler said. He added that 46% of the properties on the sewer system are commercial users, and 53 homes in Richfield receive a Homestead Exemption reduction of $4 per MCF.  He said the village would look into increasing that reduction.

“If we had imposed this in ’96, we wouldn’t have to raise these rates such a high amount,” said Councilperson Jeff Stoppenhagen.

Although the issue has been discussed at multiple council meetings, Beshara repeatedly asked the mayor to schedule a public meeting for further discussion. Wheeler agreed to set July 30 at 6 p.m. for such a meeting.

Grant Street

Council suspended readings and approved advertising for bids to pave the east/west section of Grant Street and install a bollard system that can be used to close the street for public events. Planning and Zoning Director Brian Frantz reported that permeable pavers would be installed, which will be attractive and help storm-water management. He also said the project qualifies for reimbursement from NEORSD, because it involve water management.

Frantz said the project needs to move forward quickly, so it is completed for the anticipated opening of The Richfield Brewing Co. in August.

Council also approved accepting $175,000 from the Summit County Transportation Improvement District to extend Kinross Lakes Boulevard on the south side of Wheatley Road.

Waszak thanked Frantz for his work on obtaining the funds for both projects.


Police Chief Michael Swanson reported that Officer Anthony Padula is retiring, having served for 34 years for Richfield Township, Richfield Village and the Summit County Sheriff’s office.

Richfield police received recognition from Lexipol Connect for policy managements. Swanson said that Richfield officers receive daily educational messages from Lexipol.


Fire Chief George Seifert reminded residents that discharging fireworks is not permitted in the village. He warned that used, private fireworks should not be discarded in trashcans and cautioned against looking into a fireworks tube to see why it didn’t fire.

There will be no regular council meeting on July 2.  ∞