Council weighs service options

Marietta City Council is considering options to amend city service options for businesses and residents living outside of corporation limits.

During a Water and Sewer Committee meeting Tuesday, legislators present discussed how to both offer fair and consistent options and incentives for economic development while also meeting the city’s costs of water and sewer asset maintenance.

“These are city services, benefits of living within the boundaries of the corporation,” explained City Law Director Paul Bertram.

The only member of Water and Sewer Committee present was Councilwoman Cassidi Shoaf, but additional legislators Councilwoman Susan Boyer, Councilman Geoff Schenkel and Council President Susan Vessels attended the deliberative meeting.

Each discussed with both water and wastewater superintendents and the law director how the city has for several decades also provided water service and in more recent years sewer service outside of the incorporated line – offering sewer at the same rates as in-city residents and businesses but higher water rates.

The discussion Tuesday, which was a continuation of deliberation from last week, was prompted by potential renovations to a farm equipment sales and service business situated outside of city limits requiring upgrades to the water and sewer lines already in service.

Currently city ordinances in place since 2006 require businesses and residences outside of city limits to sign an annexation clause, agreeing to not contest annexation if the city limits were to ever reach their property.

Prior to 2006, Wastewater Superintendent Steve Elliott explained, new water and sewer service tap fees for development outside of corporation limits cost several thousand dollars to property owners.

“So there was the option instead to not have so much upfront cost, $10,000 on top of permitting and the rest of the cost to build was how the option to annex if the city limit ever reached your property came around,” said Elliott.

Boyer, who is also a retired common pleas judge of Washington County, said Tuesday that the way she reads the city ordinance the city does not have the right to force a property owner to petition the city to be annexed, but does have the right to enforce the no contest clause in certain circumstances.

The legislative body will now take the remainder of January to consider adding an option for businesses and residents resistant to the annexation clause an opportunity to opt for a recurring fee instead.

Council may also consider adding upgrade fee, to codified ordinance 927.09.

Additional committee discussion on the issue is yet to be scheduled.

Council will next meet for a regular business meeting Thursday at the Armory, 241 Front St., at 7:30 p.m.