Officials To Watch Water Fund Revenue

ST. MARYS — City officials say they plan to take a closer look at the city’s water fund.

St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan noted the health of the city’s water fund needs to be examined in the coming weeks. During Monday night’s council meeting, councilors approved, under suspension of rules, an emergency ordinance to make appropriations for 2012. In that measure was a revision that removed a $200,000 appropriation from the water distribution improvement fund.

“The city needs to watch the revenue fund closely,” McGowan said during the annual report. “This is a fund that we are really going to have to watch closely in the years to come. We don’t have a problem right at this particular moment, but we just want to keep looking at this and make sure everything goes well in this area.”

City Law Director Kraig Noble said the water system is the oldest utility structure in the city. He said councilors may need to look at replacing it in the future.

“When you do that, like we just went through with the wastewater treatment plant, you have to do a rate study to see if you can finance it,” Noble said. “It might be good to do that over an increment and then maybe start setting aside a reserve fund on a yearly basis to kind of build up a fund where you have a down payment on that.”

McGowan said he planned to continue to monitor the situation.

“That’s why we are mentioning it tonight — it is something that is going to have to be addressed,” McGowan said. “It’s not something to where we are going to have to panic and say it needs to be done now, but it is going to be coming up in the future.”

During discussion on the ordinance, Councilor-at-large Jim Harris inquired about the removal of the $200,000 for improvements —  which would have gone toward looking at the inside of one of the water towers. City Auditor Doug Riesen said the projected revenue would not have met the expenditure.

“Revenue didn’t come in,” Riesen said.

“We would have spent more than we were going to bring in.”

Harris said he was “alarmed” that there would be no improvements.

However, Interim Safety-Service Director Craig Moeller said Water Superintendent Dave Sprague assured him the improvement to the water tower could wait another year.

“We can hold that off for another year without any issues,” Moeller said. “That was the only project he had in that.”

McGowan said there was no rust inside the water tower that could contaminate the water supply. Riesen noted the cut was necessary.

“If the money is not coming in you have to cut somewhere,” Riesen said.

Currently $1.5 million has been appropriated to the water fund in 2012.

“There are things that we are looking at that could increase that revenue that we’re going to be needing in the water department,” McGowan said.

In other business, councilors also set a traffic committee meeting for 5:15 p.m. Jan. 16. 1st Ward Councilor John Bubp requested the meeting after a constituent asked him to look at the no turn on red sign at the intersection of Defiance Street and Indiana Avenue, near the Auglaize County Council on Aging.

The next meeting of the St. Marys City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the city building located along East Spring Street. At 6:45 p.m. that night, councilors will hold a community forum to discuss Community Development Block Grant funds and projects.