SOUTH RUSSELL — The 292 residents who use septic tanks can now wait an extra year to empty them after Village Council voted last week to extend the septic tank cleaning ordinance, a decision that Mayor William Koons called a “real win-win”.

“We extended, instead of every two years it’s now every three years,” Mayor Koons said on the phone after the council meeting on Zoom. “An excellent job by Councilman [Gerald] Canton and [Chris] Berger. Our policy from 1996 was a little outdated, so we updated it.”

Village officials first agreed to review and potentially update the ordinance on April 13, when residents who live in one or two-person households approached council with complaints that they shouldn’t have to spend $500 every two years to empty the tanks. Improvements in septic tank technology over the past 24 years impacted council’s decision.

“I think, three years from now, we’ll probably look at this again,” the mayor said.

Village Council approved the 2021 budget, which anticipates a general fund revenue of $978,360 for 2021, compared to $907,709 this year. General fund expenditures are expected to increase to $1.18 million over this year’s $1.14 million expenses. According to official village documents, the 2021 general fund will end with a cash balance of $316,256, a decrease from 2020’s remainder of $518,785.

Mayor Koons said the biggest changes between the 2020 and 2021 budgets is the addition of a $460,000 grant, which will be used to install a stream enhancement at the intersection of Manor Brook Drive and Chillicothe Road. That grant comes courtesy of an amendment to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act, which provides money to state and local territories to help improve pollution runoff systems.

Council entered into a $756,758 agreement for pavement repair with Specialized Construction, Inc. of Newburgh Heights, which Mayor Koons said is about double the amount the village traditionally spends on these projects.

“The extra money is [resurfacing] Kensington Drive, Sheerbrook Drive, Maple Hill Drive and Daisy Lane,” he said.

On July 31, the village Street Committee plans to meet with residents of Sugar Bush Lane to discuss cleaning out the nearby silt pond. Mayor Koons said Sugar Bush and the village would each provide $6,500 to fund the $13,000 operation.

“We feel we damaged their silt pond in 2014 when we were paving Bell Road,” he said, adding that problems started because workers had to block a culvert during construction, which caused excess water to flow down to Sugar Bush’s silt pond.

Mayor Koons also provided an update at the meeting on the latest about Paw Paw Lane, a private road that residents want to convert to public so that the village can perform maintenance. The main problem is that the road is too narrow for village equipment.

“There are ways to take a private road public and Moreland Hills has done,” he elaborated. “Other communities have done it. The issue still is who’s going to pay for it. We have to buy up their land.”

This, he said, would cost the village as much at $1.5 million, an expenditure not possible for the village, which is a $3 million operation.

Council approved an ordinance formalizing the process of discarding refuse, dirt, grindings and mulch that the village does not need. For years, residents would call and ask if the village had any extra materials on hand, and the village would keep a list of residents and then deliver any desired materials.

Smaller agenda items included a new park enforcement ordinance, which allows South Russell to fine $150 from people who misuse the village park. Mayor Koons said this was done after the village received complaints from residents about park visitors riding motorcycles and letting their dogs off leash at the park.

Council also approved a list of new village and personal property to be auctioned online via public surplus auction platform GovDeals. Mayor Koons said the list includes items ranging from an old police bicycle to used radios and a desk.

Officer Andy Kelly, who Mayor Koons called a “wonderful human being,” resigned after five years with the South Russell Police Department, having spent 25 years on Bainbridge’s force prior to that.

The mayor said that Lt. Michael Fabian, who was first appointed to his position in February of 2013, plans to retire in November.

“The job has not gotten any easier,” he admitted. “The guys put in their time and they want to move on and do something else. We’re going to start looking in September to fill the position.”

Mayor Koons added that the village has been tight on employees using compensatory time recently and would like to change that. “We’re adding some flexibility to help our employees,” he said. “If some of our employees took the time [at the same time], we wouldn’t have anybody working.”

The next council meeting will be broadcast via Zoom starting at 7:30 p.m. on July 27.

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