Pataskala City Council refused to reappoint Melvin Hite to the Southwest Licking Community Water & Sewer District, instead deciding to advertise for a new representative.

Pataskala City Council refused to reappoint Melvin Hite to the Southwest Licking Community Water & Sewer District, instead deciding to advertise for a new representative.

Council members split 4-3, with Dan Hayes hesitating before casting the final and deciding vote against the reappointment. Bernie Brush, Merissa McKinstry and Joe Gernert joined Hayes, with Bryan Lenzo, Pat Sagar and Barb Triplett all voting to reaffirm Hite to the position.

Lenzo argued unsuccessfully that Hite would improve communication to the council if asked, but the majority of members said they would prefer a representative who could be more of an advocate for the city rather than serve with dual loyalty to both the city and the Southwest Licking water and sewer board.

"The district has a board member to be the city representative," city administrator Tim Boland said. "Most of the communication is through minutes submitted to us."

Brush said he had raised concerns in previous council appointments to the water and sewer board.

"There were three candidates (when Hite was appointed previously)," Brush said. "One of the concerns I raised then was, we needed a representative that would report to council and keep us abreast of SWL and its problems and plans for the future."

Brush said a concern since 1999 has been that the board has a debt of $60-million and it is not clear what progress is being made on that debt.

"We have yet to see a plan or any report from the board that oversees it about how they are going to tackle this problem and participate on this debt," Brush said.

Hayes said Hite was well-qualified and acted in good faith.

"I think what makes it a challenging appointment is that Mr. Hite is an asset to the SWL water and sewer board," Hayes said. "The problem becomes that Mr. Hite is not communicating well with the city. It's a difficult row to hoe because he has an obligation to the SWL water and sewer board as one of their members, but he's also our representative on that board, and a lot of times we conflict with one another. I don't envy his position when we run into that situation."

Council decided to advertise for the position and hope to make a decision in December about appointing a new representative to the water and sewer board.

In other business, Boland said construction would begin soon on the city's water and sewer plant and should be finished by Dec. 1, 2011.

"The wastewater treatment plant phase 2 is scheduled to begin Dec. 1," he said. "We are getting notices out to (affected residents). We will have construction vehicles in the subdivision. As everyone knows, there are not a lot of ways in and out of the treatment plant. We have put the contractor on notice, as far as speed and safety and dirt and dust on the roads."