Sewer sale topic of meeting

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 6, 2022

Vote to accept bid package was only item on agenda

On Wednesday morning, the Lawrence County Commissioners had a quick meeting about the proposed sale of the Union-Rome sewer system.

The meeting lasted about a minute and half and was so short because the proposal didn’t make the agenda for the commissioners’ meeting on Monday.

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The only item on the agenda was for the commissioners to vote to formally accept Aqua Ohio’s bid package and associated proposal for the potential sale of the Union-Rome sewer system district.

Commissioners DeAnna Holliday and Colton Copley both voted to accept the proposal. Commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr. wasn’t in attendance.

The “yes” vote doesn’t mean that the Union-Rome sewer system has been sold, rather that the commissioners’ legal counsel, the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office, can look into the proposed deal and negotiate the best deal for the county.

Copley said that the proposed agreement is “in the ballpark of what we would like to entertain” and that they want to make a “deal that is fair for the county for the county if we are going to sell an asset that is owned by the county. We want to make sure it is the best deal.”

“We feel with this agreement, we are in the ballpark of what we would like to entertain with Aqua,” Copley said the motion allows the prosecutor “to entertain the bid and come up with something that would be an acceptable deal between the county and Aqua.”

Copley said that they were looking at asset ratios of the sewer system and who could provide the best services for the community and came to the conclusion that “we should entertain an idea that a company that does sewer and water on a daily basis to help run that system rather than the government.”

Copley said it is hard to answer how long negotiates could take.

“That would be something between the prosecutor and the (legal) counsel for Aqua,” he said. “I don’t know what their timelines are, it could be quick or it could be quite a bit of time.”

In September, the commission voted to approve a resolution declaring it necessary to sale the sewer system. Holliday and Copley voted for the resolution, with Hayes voting against it.

Holliday said that resolution allowed the commission to look at proposals and bids and “This is, by no means, an effort to say ‘yes, we are selling.’ We have not made a decision.”

The Union Rome sewer plant was built for approximately $25 million in 2008 financed through a loan from Ohio Water Development Authority.