Johnstown officials on March 7 presented a proposal to Alexandria to take over Alexandria's water and sewer service, and Alexandria officials are considering the offer carefully.
"We've been talking to them for about 13 months now," Johnstown Mayor Sean Staneart said.
He said Granville currently provides water to Alexandria, but Alexandria officials are considering options.
"This time we put more of a formal proposal together per Alexandria's request," Staneart said. "Overall, I thought they were very receptive."
According to the proposal, if Johnstown were to take over Alexandria's water and sewer, Alexandria residents would save 38 percent per month for 2,000 gallons and 28 percent per month on 4,000 gallons versus current rates. The savings figures include Alexandria's rate increase in 2013. The rates would be subject to the same increases Johnstown residents would incur. For example, if Johnstown passes a 2-percent increase in water and sewer rates, Alexandria would see the same increase.
Johnstown would take care of billing and would repair any roadway or yard that is disturbed to fix a utility line break. All financial responsibility would be Johnstown's.
Alexandria officials were asked to respond to the proposal within 90 days of the March 7 meeting.
Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner said Johnstown residents would break even if the village were to take over Alexandria's water and sewer.
Should Alexandria accept the proposal by April 1, Lenner said, Johnstown could take over services by the end of 2014.
Staneart said the proposal benefits Johnstown because it would stop the Southwest Licking Community Water & Sewer District from continuing its march down state Route 37 toward Johnstown.
"We'd like to control our own destiny," Staneart said. "It's a protection thing."
He said development along Route 37 is at a standstill for now, but that's bound to change in the future and development usually follows the availability of public water and sewer. If Johnstown were the supplier, it would have more control of what's developed in the area and could squelch any potential overdevelopment, which could affect overcrowding the schools, he said.
Johnstown's water plant has more than enough capacity to serve Alexandria, he said, so it could spread its debt service over a wider area.
"The village of Alexandria has entertained offers from Johnstown and Southwest Licking Community Water & Sewer District for several different scenarios regarding the utilities," Alexandria Mayor Adam Mooney said. "The water rates from Granville did increase last year, which caused the village of Alexandria to investigate other options."
He said the situation is very complicated and that several factors must be considered when making a decision that would affect the entire village of Alexandria.
"Initially, I think everyone was rushing to make a decision due to any possible development that may occur at the state Route 161 corridor," Mooney said.
He said development at the corridor could progress in the future, but for now, he sees no indicators that should force Alexandria into a rush decision.
"Obviously, our utility infrastructure has some value, and this needs to be considered into any changes that may occur," Mooney said. "Ultimately, the village government of Alexandria must do what benefits the current residents as well as future residents of the village. At this point, Johnstown's proposal was received and will be considered. However, this is one of several options that will need to be evaluated as we move forward."