Heath's water tower for the west side will be delayed no longer, according to city officials, even though the city's water study might not be completed for another three months.

Heath's water tower for the west side will be delayed no longer, according to city officials, even though the city's water study might not be completed for another three months.

John Geller, Heath's utilities superintendent, told Heath City Council's service committee Aug. 24 that the water study of the city's west side would be done in one month. Then the east side will be studied.

Councilman Jim Watercutter asked if it would be prudent to wait until the study of the east side is completed, to determine whether any major issues in that area should be resolved before moving forward with the water-tower project.

City officials have said they need the water tower to serve Thornwood Drive, Hebron Road, Irving-Wick Drive West, all properties in the Mid-Ohio Industrial Park and properties within the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority's jurisdiction.

The estimated cost of the tower is $1.4-million, and the city has applied for grants and federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act but has yet to receive any financial support.

City officials have discussed spending $400,000 of the city's capital-improvements fund and taking on debt for the rest after the city has dropped some of its debt in the water department starting in 2010.

Geller said the city could move forward with the water-tower project in one month and then wait two to three more months for the study of the east side of the city.

"It has to do with how you set your priorities," Geller said.

Watercutter said he is concerned about moving forward with one project without knowing all of the priorities.

Heath Mayor Richard Waugh countered that the city already knows the water-tower project is a priority for existing businesses in that area. He said the study does not help council set priorities. Council already has done that, voting to go out for bid for the water-tower project. Instead, he said, the study serves as more of a model and shows how the tower could help meet the demand.

The east-side study is expected to show how the city could address the demand in that area.

Heath City Council approved the water study by Burgess and Niple. The engineering is expected to cost about $27,200, with funds coming from the water-utilities budget.

Watercutter reiterated his concerns about using money out of the water funds to build the water tower, which, he said, should come totally out of the capital-improvements fund.

Geller also asked council to consider allowing him to hire two permanent, part-time employees this year or next year. Geller said two summer employees had expressed interest in working in the water or wastewater departments, but employees seeking certification for those jobs must be able to work in the field to earn the certification. Geller said hiring someone part time could help people get certification and help the city gain some needed help.

"It's not in the budget this year, but we could put it in next year," Geller said.

He estimated the salaries could cost $7,500 a piece for the two employees. Council requested a total cost of the employees, including workers' compensation and other miscellaneous costs.

Geller agreed to get back to the committee with a figure.

He said the amount of work in both departments is sufficient to keep two part-time employees busy all year long.