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Tax increase would help pay for unfunded mandate

It is important for every Ironton citizen to understand the U.S. EPA unfunded mandate our city is dealing with at the present time.

A mandate is an official order that requires a course of action. The mandate that was issued to the City of Ironton in federal court orders the city to separate its sewers.

However, this mandate does not provide the funds necessary for these improvements. This means that we, as citizens and residents of Ironton, are required to pay the total cost of the project.

In March of 2009, a consent decree from the U.S. EPA was signed, requiring the City of Ironton to separate its sanitary sewers from its storm sewers. Over 100 years ago, when Ironton first built its sewer system, “modern” technology combined both storm water and waste water into one system in order for the storm water to carry the sanitary waste to the river.

EPA rulings and Clean Water standards have changed that thought process. Now, cities along waterways, tributaries and rivers are under orders to separate their sewer systems and treat all sewer flow. This is very expensive.

In order to comply with federal court orders, and EPA standards, the city began the separation process in 2009 by borrowing $9 million and proceeded with the described project. That $9 million debt will continue until 2033, at a cost to the citizens of Ironton of $720,000 per year. To comply with this financial obligation, the city had to create a new charge on the utility bill in order to repay the loan. The first three phases of the project have been completed.

In 2020, the final phases, 4 and 5, will start. In order to complete the project, the city will need to borrow an additional $11 million dollars. That debt will be paid through the year 2060 with an estimated annual debt payment of $275,000. That will make the grand total of the U.S. EPA’s UNFUNDED mandate approximately $20,000,000.

Our plan is to not increase everyone’s utility bill again to satisfy this new debt. The plan is to utilize monies from the proposed ¾ percent income tax increase that is on the November ballot, and would alleviate another utility increase to provide a revenue stream to comply with the U.S. EPA’s storm water separation mandate for phases 4 and 5.

In addition, the proposed tax increase will fund over 1 mile of new street paving each and every year, as well as creating a continuous alley cleanup and improvement system for the citizens of Ironton.

It would also allow us to obtain much, much-needed equipment, and go a long way towards making the continually required improvements to our water and sewage plants.

Ironton City Council members

Chuck O’Leary

Bob Cleary

Jim Tordiff

Rich Blankenship

Beth Rist