Pataskala City Council and residents of the Oaks subdivision still have not reached an agreement about resident assessments and the city's share of construction costs for a $500,000, gravity-fed sanitary sewer line mandated by the Ohio EPA.

Pataskala City Council and residents of the Oaks subdivision still have not reached an agreement about resident assessments and the city's share of construction costs for a $500,000, gravity-fed sanitary sewer line mandated by the Ohio EPA.

Moreover, both the city and the residents appear to be confused over where each party stands on the matter.

Mayor Steve Butcher said this week that he was unable to comment on negotiations with the residents, but confirmed that negotiations were still ongoing.

"We are waiting for a response from them," Butcher said.

Law director Rufus Hurst did not return calls Tuesday and Wednesday requesting comment.

April Bott, attorney for the Oaks residents who are challenging the city's assessment of approximately $14,000 per homeowner, said her understanding was that council acted on the Oaks matter Nov. 15 following an executive session, but she said the action is not on the recording of the council meeting and she has not been able to confirm any formal action by council.

"I've asked for the actual language from the city, and we can't get it," Bott said. "We were working cooperatively with the city or we thought we were, but we were shocked that apparently there was a council vote to change (the agreements)."

Bott said she was not aware of any response the residents owe the city.

"I had specifically asked for this issue to be discussed in an open council meeting," Bott said. "We will continue to work cooperatively, but we want it to be in an open dialogue. We were surprised that council went into an executive session, where we don't know what went on or can we (know)."

Council approved construction of the project in October, following several months of discussion before an ad hoc equalization board that recommended that the city bear a larger portion of the construction costs. Council rejected the equalization board recommendations on the grounds that it was outside the board's authority.

Oaks subdivision resident Thomas Kipp told council Nov. 15 that he was unhappy with council's failure to approve an agreement with the residents over the disputed Oaks sewer project. Kipp said the residents believed they had done nothing more than accept the offer put forth by the city, and while the residents were not happy with that agreement, they had nonetheless accepted it.

"Although we still thought the city's offer was unfair, we decided to give up and stop fighting," Kipp said. "We surrendered. We agreed to accept the city's proposal."

Despite what residents thought was an agreement with the city, Kipp said, council killed a resolution to accept the proposal during the council meeting Nov. 1.

"We sat in disbelief when council returned to the public meeting and without any comment refused to even second a motion to approve the agreement that had been presented to us by the city," Kipp said.

Sewer improvements at Oaks subdivision have been in dispute all year. The city argues that it has made several concessions to residents by waiving tap fees that usually amount to several thousand dollars and that the city is paying $40,000 more toward the project than state law requires. Residents say that the city was supposed to have provided sewer to the homes back in the 1960s and 1970s, and that some additional costs of the design choices for the current sewer construction should be paid by the city because the design benefits the city more than Oaks residents.

Kipp said he was discouraged by the process.

"I no longer am proud to say I live in Pataskala," Kipp said.