MIAMI COUNTY — After several public hearings over the last year, the Miami County Commissioners voted to determine the necessity to proceed with the Phoneton water supply extension project.
“This has been a tough one,” Commissioner Jack Evans said. “I think it’s in the best interest of Bethel Township at this point in time to approve it.”
Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien agreed, saying it was one of the toughest decisions he has made in his 10 years on the board.
The commissioners heard from residents during public hearings, many of whom were opposed to the project because of the cost. Many residents also said they had no need for or desire to connect to county water.
Others spoke in favor of the project, saying their properties have had contaminated wells in the past.
The approximately $2.5 million project would extend water supply service to properties in the Phoneton area of Bethel Township, including properties on E. U.S. Route 40, S. U.S. Route 40, S. State Route 202, South Wildcat Road, Shroyer Drive and Dinsmore Drive.
Many residents of these properties signed a petition objecting to the project, which they submitted to the board earlier this year. The petition states that the property owners oppose the 20-year special assessment for the project and have no need for the water line.
The estimated assessment per property owner is about $8,000, or about $400 per year for 20 years, to be placed on the resident’s property tax bill. This amount is consistent with that paid by property owners in Brandt for the 2010 sewer project, the commissioners noted.
According to township officials, the township has committed $1 million towards the cost of the $2.5 million project to offset the cost of the assessments, which comes from the township’s 3.8 mill infrastructure levy. The township has also paid a little more than $270,000 in design and engineering fees for this project.
The county is also receiving funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the project.
According to Paul Huelskamp, the project could be completed as early as the end of 2016. Before that, other legislation approving the projecting must be passed and the project must be bid out.
Earlier this year, the county offered property owners free well testing. Out of 153 property owners, more than 40 opted for testing. Of the 43 wells tested, 15 showed unacceptable levels of coliform bacteria, eight tested above safe levels for E. coli, and two tested above safe levels for nitrates.
Reach reporter Cecilia Fox at [email protected]