Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Water plan expensive

Duplicated line adds $342,000

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BURLINGTON - Residents on Longbranch Road will get water from the Boone County Water District.

The water district and the city of Florence were in a stalemate after almost two years of trying to reach an agreement to provide the service. Residents along the road in unincorporated Boone County wanted to tap into the city water line without being annexed.

Monday, the Boone County Water District board voted unanimously to build a water line along the road, which runs from U.S. 42 to Camp Ernst Road. The line will cost $700,000.

"I believe that in the end, this is the best solution," Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore said.

The water district could have saved $342,000 if an agreement with Florence had been reached. That's the cost of duplicating the portion of Florence's line that runs along the road and could have served the 22 homes in unincorporated Boone County.

"I can stand here and say we did the right thing for the taxpayers for Florence," Mayor Diane Whalen said. "I'm not sure Boone County Water District can stand there and say the same to their rate payers."

In October 2002, Boone County asked whether the city would allow the residents to tap into the line without having to annex. Florence agreed but said the residents would have to pay a $25-a-month surcharge because they would be getting services that city residents pay taxes for.

Because Boone County did not want the residents to have to pay, Boone County Water District offered to pay the fee. Florence said that was unacceptable because it would be unfair to city residents.

"It's very difficult to meet in the middle on any issue when the middle keeps moving," Whalen said.

Florence's proposal also would have allowed only residential taps. That would have forced property owners developing their land into a subdivision, for example, to be annexed into the city to get a larger tap.

Now property owners will have a choice about whether to stay in the county or annex if they decide to develop their property, Moore said.

Longbranch Road won't be the only place where Florence and Boone County water lines run next to each other. Hopeful Church Road has a Florence line down one side and a Boone County line down the other.

"It would have been nice if we could have shared resources" on Longbranch, Moore said.

The Boone County Water District may also get a boost from the proposed state budget. The Senate Republicans' version contains $2.3 million for water lines in Boone County. About $1 million would be for Boone County Water District, while another $1 million would be for the county's program to bring water to rural areas, Moore said.


E-mail bkelly@enquirer.com

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