MOUNT VERNON — Thanks to multi-jurisdictional partnerships, the City of Mount Vernon will have no cash outlay to extend water lines to the southern part of the Buckeye Addition.

The $1.5 million project is completely funded through four sources:

•$750,000 Community Development Block Grant through the county

•$200,000 Ohio Public Works Commission grant

•$70,000 in American Rescue Plan Act money from Clinton Township

•$480,000 Ohio Builds grant

The project is needed because of issues with clean drinking water. Knox Public Health identified several subdivision residents who have undrinkable water. Eleven households are already connected to city water; 75 are not.

“We cannot make people hook up to water. The health department can make people hook up to sewer,” City Engineer Brian Ball said.

Using the minimum flat rate (600 cubic feet) as an example, residents currently hooked only to sewer pay around $81.78 a month for wastewater. If they hook up to city water, their monthly bill will be around $95.82 (based on the minimum 400 cubic feet rate).

Ball said the CDBG money will cover connection fees for around 30 property owners.

“They will have to spend a little bit of money to unhook from their well,” he said.

The contract with Clinton Township states that households not hooking into city water will also pay a service availability charge of $24.92. However, after discussion, council members agreed to waive that charge.

“We will put into place what we need to within the utilities committee and maybe the agreement to make it happen that folks won’t have to pay this [service availability charge] just because the line goes in front of their house,” Council member Tammy Woods, who chairs the city’s Utilities Committee, said.

“That’s a huge grant that we got, and thank you for being willing to work with council on our desire to take out that extra fee,” Council member Amber Keener told Ball.

“Talking about the health situation and the people with the wells the opportunity to hook up to city water, I think that’s the most important thing we do is put clean water in and brown water out,” Councilman James Mahan said. “To give more people the opportunity to hook up, I am absolutely in favor of it.”

In their legislative session, council members suspended the third reading and passed a resolution authorizing the city to bid and contract for the water line project.

Planning and zoning

Former Mayor Richard Mavis spoke about the Knox County Historical Society’s request to annex 4.325 acres into the city. The acreage consists of two parcels on Harcourt Road and includes the existing museum building.

Council consented to the Expedited Type 2 annexation request. It now goes back to the commissioners but will come before council again for council to actually accept the annexation.

Michael Ringle and Caleb Bell of Bricker Graydon (formerly Bricker & Eckler) provided a few more details on the Mount Vernon New Community Authority.

An NCA is a way whereby new development pays for itself. Property owners in an NCA pay a special assessment; the city uses the money collected to pay for infrastructure, parks, public buildings, roadway improvements, land acquisition, and other items associated with new development.

Property owners will pay an additional 4 mills on property in the NCA. The NCA does not apply to existing property in the city; it only applies to what Bell calls “blank ground.”

“No property is added to the NCA without the owner’s permission,” he told council.

Using a 4-mill, 30-year, mid-point market value, and two-year build-out model, the NCA will generate $7.59 million from the Rockford Homes and Highland Real Estate Group developments ($3.07 million and $4.52 million, respectively).

“If property values go down, the amount generated by the charge goes down. Generally property values go up, not down,” Ringle said.

In its legislative session, council waived the three readings and adopted an ordinance verifying the city’s petition to establish an NCA is sufficient and complies with the Ohio Revised Code. A public hearing is set for July 24.

Legislative action

In other legislative action, council:

•Approved new permanent signs on a trial basis that delineate the boundaries of the city’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area

•Waived the three readings and approved supplemental appropriations

•Gave the first reading to legislation accepting the Tax Incentive Review Commission’s recommendations regarding the city’s tax-exempt economic projects

•Approved the vacation of Lewis Street between West Vine and West Gambier streets

•Approved the rezoning of 600 W. Vine St. to GB general business

•Amended and adopted zoning fee schedule changes

•Gave a second reading to rezoning 1104 W. Gambier, 120 S. Norton, and 130 S. Norton from township zoning to GB city zoning; a public hearing is set for July 10.

•Amended the city’s code relating to water charges to include a one-time fee of $75 charged prior to disconnection; council then adopted the ordinance

•Gave a second reading to an ordinance changing the circumstances under which a resident can apply for a CRA incentive

•Gave a first reading to legislation accepting the annexation of 105.65 acres on Martinsburg Road

Fire Chief Chad Christopher updated council on fire activities for second quarter 2023. The department is fully staffed although two are on injury leave. Run volume is 2,772, 2,090 of which were in the city. Eighty-seven percent were EMS, 13% fire.

Calls for the Gambier station are down with Kenyon College students being off campus. Dorm renovation work is on hold pending state action. Christopher expects the new medic to arrive in July 2025.

Community Navigator Walt Lewis told council about plans for a community garden on the near east side.

A Christian ultrarunner who likes coffee and quilting

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