Bidding on Salem sewer plant work to begin in May

SALEM – The Salem wastewater treatment plant Phase I improvement project recently received the blessing of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, with the bidding process expected to start in May.

Salem Utilities Commission Chairman Geoff Goll announced Tuesday the state issued the required Permit to Install for the project, which is expected to improve the removal of solids and improve suspended solids compliance issues at the plant on Pennsylvania Avenue

Goll said it will be made clear to whomever becomes the contractor that the commission has an interest in having local suppliers and local labor used for the construction.

Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart said the rough estimate for the cost of the construction is between $2.8 million to $3.1 million. He said the engineering firm Burgess & Niple is in the process of preparing for the bidding process. The cost estimate does not include the cost for design engineering or construction engineering.

Weingart estimated a four-week bidding process. He said the commission may end up calling a special meeting regarding advertising for bids. The next regular meeting of the commission isn’t scheduled until 3 p.m. May 21.

In other business, the commission agreed to pay $35,948 toward the city’s purchase of a new bucket truck for the city electrician, but only for the purchase, not for any maintenance of the vehicle.

City Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said he was told that the city auditor had talked to the state auditor’s office and was told that all costs should be shared. The Finance Committee of City Council had recommended the purchase of the truck through state purchasing for a total cost of $105,820, with the Utilities Department share set at $35,948, leaving $69,872 for the city to pay.

Goll noted that they were told by the city law director that joint ownership would not be required and all the issues associated with the vehicle would be the responsibility of the service department alone. He also pointed out that the utilities department had never been asked before to pay for the electrician’s gas or oil or whatever.

“Do you disagree with the law director?” Goll asked Kenst.

Kenst said he was told that sharing is done throughout all the state departments, but he isn’t going to argue with the law director.

Goll commended Kenst on the work he did to secure a 6 percent savings on the truck purchase.

The commission tabled action on a request by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resource Management to enter the Eagleton Glen property off of Teegarden Road, referring the request to the law director. Two ODNR representatives, Todd Gleydura and Justin Conkle, asked for legal permission to enter the city-owned property to gain access to an area where they’re planning to stabilize a couple of spots where the abandoned Teegarden coal mine is subsiding and causing a safety problem to the area.

In billing matters, the commission heard from three property owners concerning their high bills and requests for adjustments on the sanitary sewer portion due to mechanical problems which resulted in the unusually high bills. The commission has a policy that all water metered and used must be paid for, but they’ve gone on record saying they’re willing to cut people a break on the sewer cost since it’s clean water coming through the system as long as the people explain their case in person.

In all three cases, the toilets malfunctioned and had continued running. One was an occupied rental unit, one was a vacant rental unit and one was a vacant home up for sale.

For a Pershing Street rental property, the sewer part of the bill was reduced from $647.52 for one month to $48.56, which is the average usage for that customer. For an apartment on Cedar Ridge, the sewer bill was reduced from $717.68 down to $5.68 for the month in question. For a property owner on 12th Street, the sewer bill was reduced from $176.08 to $5.68 for the month in question. In both cases, the amount the customer has to be is the average usage for the sewer service.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at