Thursday – December 15: The Board of Trustees for Buckeye Water District held their regular monthly meeting this morning at Wellsville Village Hall. All Board members were present except one. Also present was District Manager Al DeAngelis, Legal Advisor Fred Emmerling, Fiscal Officer Tony D'Angelo and Office Manager Greg Stanley.
The Board once again went into Executive Session for litigation with Attorney Emmerling. This one lasted 23 minutes with no action or comments when they returned. We suspect that it had to do with Judge Ashley Pike's ruling two days ago saying BWD had to pay East Liverpool the $4.8 million breech of contract judgement.
Pike has been dragging his feet on issuing that ruling, especially since the USDA advised that in a sense the money garnished is actually theirs. It was bank rolled for loans they issued BWD for growing the water district. BWD was preparing to run water lines to Frederick Heights before the City of East Liverpool got greedy. The St. Clair Township neighborhood doesn't have the best of water from their well systems. The township trustees have been begging, for what seems ages now, to get water lines installed for those residents. The Frederick Heights project was put on hold pending litigation.
Pike must have a short memory when he was quoted by a reporter as saying ...the court beseeches counsel to make every effort to settle on a realistic payment plan...” We recall that BWD offered East Liverpool a cool $1 million cash payment plus something like $14,000 a month for a year to partially satisfy the earlier judgment. It was offered to negotiate additional payments for the balance. East Liverpool's response was to garnish BWD assets and all their cash.
Although nothing was mentioned this morning we can only speculate how this is going to turn out. BWD has already appealed Pike's latest ruling with the 7th District Court of Appeals. Earlier talk was that by forcing them to pay the full $4.8 million judgment in one lump sum might force BWD to file for bankruptcy protection. The USDA surely doesn't want to take over a water district by foreclosing. East Liverpool may have been able to balance their city budget had they accepted that earlier payment plan. Now they'll have to wait ...even longer.
District Treasurer Bob Wines reported that the District is a little over the budget but it is not real bad. Board President Mike Ryan said the District is “in the red a little bit” and both conceded it shouldn't cause any serious problems. The Treasurer's Report was accepted as read.
Board member Gene McGaffick noted that sales was down a bit compared to this year's monthly average but year-to-date it is up compared to this time last year.
DeAngelis reported there was two large leaks in Salineville since the last meeting. One was a saddle break on the main line through that village. The saddle was one installed before Buckeye took over the Salineville water system. DeAngelis noted it was one of the less expensive ones they used that didn't have any stainless steel. The other leak was at the Salineville Sewage Treatment Plant. That line is the responsibility of the Village.
DeAngelis also noted there is a leak somewhere in Wellsville and it is suspected to be between Hibbits Mill and the main line in the village. It is not a real bad leak but water is being lost. Replacing the main line from Hibbits Mill into Wellsville was one of the projects put on the back burner as a result of East Liverpool's litigation. Plans now are being made to make a concentrated effort to isolate the leak in the near future.
For New Business Fiscal Officer Tony D'Angelo advised that under Ohio Revised Code 6119 Buckeye Water does not have to pay real estate taxes and he has spoken to County officials. Yesterday's Morning Journal listed the District being $4,656 in arrears for taxes on the Raw Water Pumping Station that is located by Little Yellow Creek. County officials agreed that the District is exempt.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:34 AM. The next regularly scheduled meeting is Thursday, January 19, 2012 at Wellsville Village Hall.