Camden village council discusses utility charges, safety concerns

By Anthony Baker -

CAMDEN — Camden Village Council discussed issues relating to utility fees, pursuing payment for unpaid citations, and safety concerns caused by derelict buildings during its second monthly meeting on Thursday, Sept 19.

Village resident Karen Brewer again raised concerns about reconnect fees charged when a resident’s utility services are disconnected. Brewer previously spoke about this issue at the council’s Sept. 5 meeting, saying that while she was able to afford the reconnect fee, she was concerned about other residents who may be less fortunate. Brewer presented council with a list of similar fees charged by other communities in Preble County.

“It doesn’t really matter what another town charges,” council member Debbie Hickman said in response. The village’s budget, according to Hickman, is what determines the amount assessed for reconnect fees and other charges. Hickman also said that upgrades to the village’s water service mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency have created debt that municipal fees and charges must gather funds in order to repay.

“You figure out what you need and then figure out how to get the money,” Hickman said. “Unfortunately that cost gets passed on to our residents.”

Brewer also raised concerns about money being spent to renovate the Camden Town Hall, both the already completed first floor as well as planned renovations to the second floor, indicating that perhaps those funds could be better spent elsewhere. Hickman claimed that renovating the town hall building had actually saved the village money, however, and that revenue from a planned public meeting area on the second floor was expected to result in even further savings.

Council member Toni Keesler cautioned against soliciting information on these issues on social media platforms like Facebook.

“You’re going to get every Tom, Dick and Harry’s cockamamie opinion,” Keelser said.

Council unanimously passed a resolution allowing Camden Clerk of Courts Nancy Melton to turn delinquent accounts for unpaid citations over to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Department of Collections. Melton previously addressed council about this option during their Aug. 15 meeting.

“They go after everything, and from what I hear it’s not too nice, and it does put some fear in people,” Melton told council members at that time.

Finally, council discussed the recent change in ownership of the old NAPA building located at 98 S. Main St. The building’s deteriorating condition has led to public safety concerns including bricks falling onto the nearby sidewalks, according to village administrator Rusty Wilson.

“The current owner knows what he got into,” Wilson told the council. “So if he doesn’t fix it like the previous owner was ordered to do, we’ll see him in court as well.”

Village Council meetings are held at the Camden Town Hall at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Baker | The Register-Herald

By Anthony Baker