County pulling out of city water deal

By Scott Halasz

XENIA — Greene County has informed the City of Xenia that it will not renew its water contract when it expires in 2018, potentially costing the city more than $700,000 annually.

The county — which supplies water to Cedarville, Wilberforce and Shawnee Hills — instead is preparing to construct its own water line and connecting it to the North Beavercreek water system and supplying the aforementioned areas at a cost of $5.5 million.

Under the terms of the current 20-year contract, which was signed June 4, 1998, the city supplies the county with water for those three areas and pays the current rate plus a 50 percent surcharge, which the city charges customers outside the incorporated portion to spur economic development.

The county pays an average of around $650,000 annually to the city for the water and because of its own rates for the service areas and leakage which is higher than the industry standard of 15 percent, operates at a deficit averaging $154,308 annually.

“I’m not selling all the water they’re supplying,” County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said.

County officials say by not having a 50 percent surcharge and with the opportunity to reduce the leakage, the county will be in the black, even with the debt service for the project.

The sides have spoken about the issue for a few months and have exchanged multiple offers. While not on the agenda for tonight’s Xenia council meeting, the city is expected to address the issue.

Currently on the table, according Huddleson, is an offer to reduce the surcharge to 20 percent. That would need to be approved by the city and county.

That would reduce the city’s income from the agreement approximately $100,000 City Manger Brent Merriman said, while reducing the county’s deficit to less than $70,000 this year, according to county projections.

The county would also be able to sell water to Central State, which would further decrease any deficit, Huddleson said.

The city made another offer to the county, which calls for surcharges of 30, 25 and 40 percent while the two sides negotiate a transfer of the county customers to the city.

“I’ve responded that we’re not interested in that,” Huddleson said.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.