CAMDEN — Village Council elected a new President, lowered water service reconnection fees for residents, and received updates on grant funding during its second bi-monthly meeting Thursday, Jan. 21.
Mayor Karen Moss nominated council member Toni Keelser for the position of President and Vice Mayor near the top of Thursday’s meeting. The measure was approved by unanimous vote.
Former state representative J. Todd Smith addressed council about efforts to secure grant funding for projects in Preble County communities. Smith reported the results of a recent meeting with the chairman of Ohio’s budget committee.
“Preble County always gets the short end of the stick, and I made that clear,” Smith said.
Smith stated that $1.1 million had recently been secured for Preble County, including $100,000 to be put toward planned renovations to the second floor of Camden Town Hall.
“With the way you take care of it and the amount of money you’ve already invested, this was an easy sell,” Smith said of the project.
The village previously completed extensive renovations to the first floor of the Town Hall building, which were also grant-funded. Planned renovations to the upstairs portion include a meeting space intended to be rented out for weddings and other large events.
Smith expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work with the village during his years as a state representative.
“You guys were great to work with,” Smith said. “Just a great group of people.”
Moss expressed gratitude to Smith as well.
“You’ve always been very accessible and very responsive, and we appreciate that,” she said.
Council passed a resolution lowering the amount of reconnection fees incurred by residents due to late or unpaid water service payments. Debbie Hickman initially raised concerns about the fees during council’s Nov. 5 meeting. Residents were previously charged not only a ten-percent late fee, but also a $50 reconnection fee if their water bill wasn’t paid until after shut-off, according to Hickman.
Hickman suggested a tiered rate structure that would charge first-time offenders only $10 to reconnect, with second and third offenses entailing $20 and then $50 fees, respectively.
Councilman Kelly Doran responded enthusiastically to the new tiered structure when initially proposed, while Village Administrator Rusty Wilson and Fiscal Officer Becky Wilson disagreed, stating that village employees routinely spend hours shutting off water service due to delinquent accounts, only to have to immediately reconnect after residents belatedly pay their bill.
The new rate structure was ultimately approved by unanimous vote, and will officially go into effect on Feb. 21.
Village Council meetings take place the first and third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Camden Town Hall.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish