Plan moving forward for Buchtel to join regional district

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Progress is being made toward Buchtel joining the regional water and sewer district that Nelsonville is creating.

On Tuesday, the Athens County Commissioners voted to have Commission President Lenny Eliason negotiate terms of the transfer with Nelsonville officials. Eliason said he will ask the county prosecutor’s office to begin drafting an agreement for the transfer, but said a more specific date for the transfer is needed from Nelsonville.

Buchtel is currently part of the Athens County Water and Sewer District, although the water the district buys for Buchtel comes from Nelsonville and Nelsonville already treats the sewage for the county. In 2017, Buchtel notified the commissioners that the village would like Buchtel to be transferred to the Nelsonville system. Also, the city of Nelsonville expressed interest in officially becoming Buchtel’s water and sewer provider.

Nelsonville plans to build an new sewage treatment facility that could serve Nelsonville, Carbon Hill, Murray City and Buchtel.

The county still owes $600,000 on a loan obtained for the Buchtel sewer system, and owes about $41,000 on a loan for the village’s water system.

Nelsonville City Manager Charles Barga told the commissioners in an email last month that during discussions with the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the sewer plant project, the USDA indicated it would provide funding to pay off the county’s sewer debt for Buchtel.

Rich Kasler, superintendent of the Athens County Water and Sewer District, recommended that the Athens County district pay off the remaining $41,000 owed on the water system debt.

Kasler said the district was required to hold in reserve an amount of money equal to one year’s payment on the debts, with the money coming from sewer and water bills. Kasler recommended that the reserve amounts be transferred to Nelsonville when it becomes the water and sewer provider.

The county had received USDA funding to build Buchtel’s sanitary sewer system, which started construction in 2000.

Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, April 3 newspaper on Page A3.