Jefferson County commissioners commit funds for projects | News, Sports, Jobs

Jefferson County commissioners commit funds for projects | News, Sports, Jobs

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  • August 26, 2022
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STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County commissioners Wednesday committed roughly $1 million in American Rescue Plan money to water-sewer projects.

Operations Supervisor Jonathan Sgalla, standing in for Director Mike Eroshevich, told commissioners the district’s “needs are many, and it’s difficult without knowing what money’s available.”

Eroshevich, who was unable to attend the meeting in person, submitted a list of nine projects.

His prioritized list, on the water side:

— The Santucci Booster station replacement, $800,000.

— Bergholz water system replacement, $7 million.

— Bergholz transmission line replacement, $3 million.

— Telemetry System upgrade, $2 million.

— TTLBS Drive Unit replacement, $300,000.

— Laurel Hills waterline extension, $3 million.

Eroshevich’s list of sewer priorities is much shorter and less costly:

— Murphy lift station rehabilitation, $62,000.

— A pump replacement, $87,000.

— UV disinfection project, $420,000.

“Although certainly a help, $1 million will not go very far when looking at what projects are being looked at,” Commissioner Tony Morelli said. “We were given a list of potential projects which totaled $19 million — the Bergholz water system replacement alone is estimated at $7 million. ARPA definitely will help, but is certainly not the answer to the needed upgrades and replacement of infrastructure across the county. New rates will help in the long term, but in the short term there is a lot of work that needs done.”

Commissioner Tom Graham said from his perspective, “This is a good move, to give the water-sewer district money. I think it’s a good use of (the money).”

Commissioners, meanwhile, said they’d also fielded “a lot of concerns” from Amsterdam residents about hookups to the new sewer system and potentially extending the deadline as well as costs increasing from the $2,000 to $3,000 they were quoted to $6,000 to $7,000 in today’s market.

“There are currently three active contractors,” Sgalla said. “When it comes to pricing, we’re currently looking at things we can possibly do to help individuals out outside of the low-to-moderate income grants, but we’re just starting that phase, trying to see if there is anything we can do. (Prices) significantly increased.”

He said the contractors are starting to make headway on the connections list, pointing out the Sept. 25 connection deadline is only for Jefferson County residents. “Carroll County, I can’t say — I don’t even know if they set a 90-day date yet,” Sgalla said.

“We’ve had a few of these projects … it’s the same all the time,” Commissioner Dave Maple said. “There are two or three contractors and only 90 days to hook up. I think 90 days is a little aggressive.”

Morelli said people need to know the district is “looking for help” for customers overwhelmed by the sharp increase in connection fees, “but there’s no guarantees.”

At Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District’s request, commissioners supported Jefferson County’s participation in the Ohio EPA Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance home sewage treatment system principal forgiveness program. The funds would assist “low median income communities with household sewage treatment system improvements,” JSWCD officials said.

“With the support of the commissioners, six rounds of funding have been granted to Jefferson County, which will have resulted in the replacement of nearly 90 failing home sewage treatment systems in the county,” they wrote, pointing out “any Jefferson County homeowner who meets the income requirements and whose residence has a failing home sewage treatment system will be eligible to apply for forgiveness dollars.”

“We’re starting to see prices go up,” JSWCD’s Aaron Dodds said. “Last year we put in a system that cost $23,000. This program helps people replace failing systems.”

In other business, commissioners:

— Opened bids for two slip projects. Submitting bids for the county Road 49 Slip were Marucci & Gaffni of Youngstown, $1,433,824; A.P. O’Horo of Youngstown $1,424,000; and Shelly & Sands of Rayland, $1,516,690, Bidding for the county Road 74 slip repair were Howard Bowers, $263,884, and Ohio-West Excavating, $246,204. All bids were submitted to the county engineer for review.

— Certified $14,073 in delinquent water and sewer accounts to the county auditor at the water and sewer district’s request.

— Heard Jefferson County Educational Service Center request for $51,500 in ARPA funds to develop a resource network, including a website and an app, “that will allow users to know where to get help and support when needed.” The funds would cover development costs, with reoccurring program costs sustained through current community partnerships.

Wednesday’s meeting was the last at which requests from non-profits for ARPA funding were accepted.

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