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02-18-03: Fort Recovery wants to keep bargaining
Administrator to reopen light contract with DP&L

The Daily Standard
    FORT RECOVERY - A contract for street lighting in Fort Recovery is not signed, sealed and delivered just yet.
    Village Administrator Randy Diller told village council members meeting Monday that he plans to attempt to reopen negotiations with DP&L Energy after learning some new information recently. Council members had approved a new contract at the Feb. 3 meeting, but Diller said Monday that he has not signed the document yet.
    Councilors had reluctantly agreed to a five-year street lighting contract after months of negotiations. Village officials agreed to pay $10.98 per pole per month for approximately 140 lights within the town. The contract calls for the village to continue paying for the lights even if some of them are removed and replaced with village-owned lighting, something most officials did not agree with.
    Diller said he and Coldwater Village Manager-Engineer Eric Thomas met recently with a couple of lawyers familiar with public utilities issues.
    The lawyers said that DP&L Energy is a non-regulated subsidiary of Dayton Power & Light Co. Because the division is unregulated, that means Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has no authority over the street lighting entity.
    Because DP&L Energy is not publicly regulated, that also means the company does not have to be granted automatic, free access to public rights of way within the village, Diller said he was told. The town could feasibly charge DP&L Energy for that access, he said.
    Diller said he would attempt to bring DP&L Energy officials back to the negotiating table, but admitted the town is not bargaining from a tremendous position of strength. Eventually, village officials would like to take over ownership and management of its own street lighting system.
    "We're not ready to take it over. We're not ready to tell them to get lost. We have to negotiate with them," Diller said.
    DP&L Energy has more up-front charges and higher base fees than most other street light providers in the state, Diller said the attorneys told him.
    Coldwater has already accepted and signed its contract with DP&L Energy.
    Diller said he was unsure what council's passage of an ordinance approving the contract and his refusal to sign the document would mean. He noted that the ordinance simply "authorizes," but does not order or direct him to sign the contract.
    Diller suggested the ordinances could be rescinded by council to pave the way for a new contract. Diller said he does expect to take any action on the matter before council next meets on March 3.
    "The worst-case scenario is we're where we thought we'd be," after the contract's passage earlier this month, Diller said.
    In other business Monday, council members approved two upcoming training sessions for police Chief Maggie Hartings and heard Hartings' annual report for 2002.
    Hartings will attend a two-day training seminar March 10-11 in Reynoldsburg sponsored by the Public Agency Training Council. The seminar will focus on administration and management. The other session is a five-day course in April in Louisville, Ky., sponsored by the Southern Police Institute and is to focus on management of small departments.
    Council members agreed to pay $775 for registration for the two courses and agreed to cover Hartings' hotel, meals and mileage  expenses.
    Hartings gave a brief overview of her annual report. The report shows that the department issued 36 traffic citations and made 36 misdemeanor arrests last year, Hartings said. There were no felony arrests although two felony cases went unsolved.
    In traffic accident statistics, Hartings reported only a slight rise in accidents over the prior year. But the 33 total accidents are close to the typical number the department has handled in past years. There were a total of five accidents involving vehicles or bicycles in 2002 after just two such incidents during the previous three years. That issue could warrant some sort of public education campaign, Hartings said. No accidents at intersection
    There was also some good news in the traffic numbers. Ohio 49 and Ohio 119, considered the most dangerous intersection in the village, recorded no accidents in 2002. The Butler Street-Fort Site Street intersection had three crashes during the year to rate as the most active area in town.
    Also Monday, village council members:
    - Learned that a sewer tap failure led village officials to hook a Wayne Street business into an unused tap at an adjacent business. The village plans to pay for about $500 in plumbing work to restore service to Fort Recovery Insurance Agency, 110 N. Wayne St. Officials did not want to tear up the brick pavement to fix the existing tap.
    - Heard the town's cemetery board has two of its three seats vacant.
    - Learned that Diller plans to look into buying a brush chipper for $14,900.


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