By Mayor Jim Forthofer
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that I receive in the Mayor’s office.
- Why did my water bill double?!
- Your consumption may change but the water rates rose only $1.00 per CCF (19%) in 2017. Our water rates are on par with those in other communities…lower than some. Also, your August water charge may be higher because it covered five weeks. Your Utility Bill details as many as eight different items depending whether you live in the City or Township. Water is just one. Other items on the Utilities Bill can be sewer, garbage, storm water, EPA fees and others. You may want to look for increases in each of these utilities on your bill and don’t forget to consider fluctuation in your usage. If you have a charge you do not understand, call the Utilities Department 440/204-2420. Also, when comparing your Utilities Bill to other communities be sure both bills contain the same utilities for an apples to apples comparison.
- What’s happening with the cell tower?
- Nothing. In April, Verizon asked me if they could place a cell tower at the far west end of town on Rt. 6. Council gave me the OK to work with Verizon on their project. Just like any project you may have, a proposed cell tower must go before the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Planning Commission. In this case, the project must also go before Council to determine if this use of city land is in the best interest of the City. If so, Council would then authorize the Mayor to enter into a contract with Verizon. As of this date Verizon is not scheduled before any board or commission. We’ll see.
- When will you do something about the awful condition of Hollyview Drive?
- Cross your fingers. The City received a grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission to help completely replace Hollyview Drive from Sanford to Forestview Drive. The project will cost almost $1 million. OPWC pays $549,500 and the City pays the rest. Only with this kind of help we can tackle a concrete street like Hollyview. Work on the project must begin by June 30th, 2019, or we lose the grant. The question is, can the Administration and Council find $447,500 as our share of the cost in our 2019 budget along with all our other obligations? Stay tuned.
- Is there going to be a new firehouse or not?
- There must be. Fire trucks were the size of a large SUV in the 1950’s when Station #1 was built on Victory Park. Today, clearances around modern engines in the bay are only inches. Tight quarters make for delays in getting engines on the road in response to emergencies. The money for a new station will come from funds generated by the Fire Levy. No general funds. Fire Chief Stempowski and his dedicated volunteers have given a lot of thought to what should be in the new firehouse. However, site selection is critical. Maybe more critical than the building. As Mayor, I am insisting we move very deliberately when choosing a location. Firehouses provide emergency service for 40 years and more. The driving priority is to strategically locate a firehouse that can provide fast response while coping with two very active rail road tracks, a river, a highway and several bridges. Just as importantly, we have to consider Vermilion’s fire fighting needs 40 years from now. Will we need one station or two? Will we have a full time or volunteer department? What will the resident and industrial concentrations be in 2058? I won’t let us just jump at an easy location because it’s cheap and available. Firefighting is a critical service to the City now and in the future. We only have one shot to get this right for the next several decades.
- What about the wait at intersections along Liberty?
- It’s like a tube of toothpaste. Squeezing it at one end just pushes the paste to the other end.
The new traffic lights were installed on Liberty to replace our antiquated second-hand traffic lights at the cost of over $1 million. The Ohio Department of Transportation picked up a big piece of the bill. Engineers prioritized timing of the new lights to improve the volume of east/west traffic flow through Liberty Avenue. They succeeded. You and I can now travel Liberty from Main Street to Giant Eagle at the speed limit without stopping. However, you and I wait longer at some of the north/south intersections. An engineer adjusted some of intersections to shorten the wait time. However, further reduction in wait times at intersections will defeat the system designed to improve the east/west Liberty flow.