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Erlanger Mayor Asks Ft. Wright to Join Him in Questioning Sanitation District

Erlanger Mayor Tyson Hermes presented to Fort Wright City Council Wednesday evening about the interlocal agreement that Sanitation District 1 (SD1) wants the cities to sign. Many cities, including Erlanger, have already done so. 

Hermes argued that there is a substantial amount of “gray area” within the agreement and wants the organization to be held responsible, requesting Fort Wright to join the cause, as well.

“When SD1 came to all of our cities and said that they wanted to take over the sewer maintenance, the ownership of the sewer lines, I think we all were excited and jumped in on that as quickly as we could,” he began. “But as part of doing that, they hired a company called GRW Engineers and GRW went to each city and put together a detailed report that outlined all the work that would have to be done to the sewers, to the manholes, to bring everything up to snuff, basically…They assessed that we would have to pay them about $2.8 million dollars for them to take over our lines and I think every city is in the same boat, but the amount was different, of course. We had to pay 50 percent of that right up front, so $1.4 million dollars just to buy in to the system and the other 50 percent had to be paid over 10 years. From 1995 to 2012, we got along quite well with SD1. They continued to maintain the lines just the same way we did; if there was a break in the driveway, they took care of it…But in 2012, they didn’t get their rate increase and they decided that they weren’t going to be responsible for any of the lateral lines until it tied into their name.”

And that’s when much of the area’s relationship with the sanitation department soured, Hermes said. “As property rights go…that creates an invisible line that basically goes from the center of the earth out to space…Most of the utilities that we have, there is a demarcation point. With electric, your demarcation point is the meter; they take care of everything up to the meter and you’re responsible for everything from the meter into the house. Same goes for gas and water – all with the meter. But we don’t meter our sewer, we don’t meter when we flush the toilet, and so we have a gray area here. If we don’t say it’s the property line or driveway, SD1 is taking advantage of that gray area and they’re saying you’re responsible up into where that line ties up into our main. The problem is, it’s different for every property owner out there…We want to try and make SD1 responsible at the right of lot, that way it’s going to be the same for every property throughout their district and all three counties, everybody is going to be in the same boat.”

Hermes said that, for him, the bottom line is, SD1 should be held responsible and he wants Ft. Wright to join together in partnership with Erlanger and the surrounding counties to make sure that occurs. But, council agreed with the Mayor of Erlanger that the only way that may occur is via a lawsuit.

Other Notes:

Fort Wright took another step forward toward Von Lehman relocating its current Fort Mitchell offices to the Wright Summit complex, as a motion was unanimously passed by council to authorize the city to issue Industrial Building Revenue Bonds for the project that will put additional buildings on the property for the first time in seven years.

Charlie Goettsch, owner of the property at 1850 Dixie Highway, updated council on his project, noting that two lots behind 1850 are available for purchase and the price of the Dupree will be lower than what it was purchased for in order to make it more attractive to a potential buyer that wants to renovate the historic home.

Also on Wednesday evening, Council voted to pass a motion to absorb a 10% increase this year for their traditional health insurance plans in order to temporarily soften the rising costs it may face due to the Affordable Care Act. “It’s no different than what any other business has to do and…that’s just the way it is,” Councilman Dave Abeln said, adding that the city has to do whatever it takes to ensure a competitive business environment for employers to hire employees, as well, he added.

Councilman Adam Feinauer said the Highland Cemetery is hosting their Veteran’s Day event on Sunday, November 8, at 2 p.m. honoring all veterans of the area. The event will feature guest speaker and current Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Pohlman and all are welcome to attend.

-Jason Finnell, RCN contributor