CAMDEN — Camden Village Council members considered grant proposals and utility payment policies during their second bi-monthly meeting Oct. 17.
Doug Kramer, of Eaton-based civil engineering firm Kramer & Associates, delivered a presentation on several potential street, sidewalk, and drainage improvement projects being considered by the village, including paving sections of North Main St and resurfacing nearby alleys; building a walking path on South St, near the intersection with Camden Rd; and adding sidewalks at the bottom of a hill on West Central Avenue, near U.S. 127.
Kramer suggested pursuing a combination of grant and loan funds in order to finance the projects. Council members Kelly Doran and Wendell Mackie made a motion to move forward with the application process, which council unanimously accepted.
Susan Laux, of Greenville-based firm Mote & Associates, updated council on fundraising efforts for their planned second-storey renovation to Camden Town Hall. Laux shared a draft of an email attachment she plans to include with grant applications discussing the history of the Town Hall building, its significance to the community, and the work already completed on the first floor.
“You already put $600,000 into making this building usable again and restoring it,” Laux said, a fact she felt would work in their favor when seeking funds for additional improvements. Laux suggested seeking approximately $465,000 in grant funds, half of the $930,000 total needed for the project.
Laux also planned to contact Ohio State Senator Steve Huffman to tour the Town Hall building, at Doran’s request.
Former mayor Dan Michael — whose wife, Judy Michael, is a current village council member — spoke during the public participation portion of Thursday’s meeting, asking for a rate adjustment on a village resident’s water bill. According to council member Debbie Hickman, however, the resident in question — Melissa Shaw, who is a former village council member — must appear before the council in person in order to ask, in keeping with a village ordinance.
Hickman also claimed Shaw had been given ample opportunity to fix the leak that is presumably leading to her exorbitant water bill, having been contacted by village administrators after the first inflated bill.
“If someone called and told me I was using 19 thousand gallons of water in a month, I’d get it fixed,” Hickman said.
Once provided with evidence that the leak has been fixed, according to Village Administrator Becky Wilson, a rate adjustment can be issued. Subsequent bills for the property in question have shown usage of 61 and 71,000 gallons, Wilson said.
Council member Doran had questions about the rate adjustment policy.
“Should we make someone pay a $700 water bill?” Doran asked. “If I’m some little old lady, I can’t afford to pay that and then wait for an adjustment.”
Doran suggested allowing residents to pay some sort of minimum amount to maintain service and avoid being shut off until after an adjustment has been issued, but other council members argued this would encourage residents to treat the village as a “finance company,” racking up huge utility bills and then paying, in effect, on an installment basis.
“Why should they get special treatment when we pay our water bill?” council member Toni Keesler said.
One of Shaw’s tenants — James Barnett, whose water bill is included in his monthly rent — asked how his family could avoid having their water shut off in the interim.
“Tell your landlord to pay her water bill,” Hickman said. Water service to the property was scheduled to be shut off Oct 25.