Several residents who live on two private roads in Silver Lake on Monday night (Aug. 15) expressed opposition to a proposal charging them a water system maintenance rate.
Silver Lake Village Council gave a second reading to an amendment to the village’s water rate ordinance stating that all residents who are connected to the water system and those whose connection to the water system is through fire hydrant service must pay a minimum fixed charge for upkeep of the system. No action was taken by Council and a third reading on the legislation is scheduled for Council’s next regular meeting on Sept. 6.
Nearly every resident is connected to the village’s water system and sewer system and pays a flat rate of $15.94 per month for water system maintenance and are then also charged for the water they use. There are 31 village homes on North Dover Road and Woodland Lane (both of which are private roads) that are not connected to the village’s water or sewer system who do not pay this flat rate, according to village officials. These homes use well water and are connected to Summit County’s sewer system. Village officials are proposing charging $15.94 per month to these 31 residents because water from a fire hydrant could be used to put out a blaze at their home. There is a fire hydrant at Graham Road and North Dover which Cuyahoga Falls Fire Chief Paul Moledor said his department could use to fight a fire in that area. If the rate charge is approved by Council, it would take effect in the Oct. 1 bills payable Oct. 20, according to the proposed ordinance.
Nine people (eight of whom live on either North Dover or Woodland) told Council members they were opposed to paying the $15.94 charge since none of them are tapped into the village’s water system and the only way they would use water is if the Falls Fire Department responded to a blaze at their home. Some said they were willing to pay a lower fee. One resident said he felt the attempt to impose the fee challenged residents’ “sovereignty” with the roads. Since the roads are private, the residents who live there pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the two streets. The village is not responsible for maintenance and upkeep, however, its employees do plow and salt the roads in the winter.
After the public comment session, Council took a break and the residents who spoke exited Village Hall. Council then resumed its meeting, and when the legislation itself was reviewed, Council President Gerald Jones (At Large) told his colleagues he felt the fee was “fair,” and added he did not see how they could lower it as was suggested by some of the residents.
Village Solicitor Robert Heydorn said the issue was “complicated” and noted it would be difficult to determine how to arrive at a lower charge.
“How do you strike a figure?” he asked Council.
For more on this story, see the Aug. 21 edition of the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press.