by Lauren Krupar
Cuyahoga Falls -- City officials are asking City Council to approve a water-sharing agreement with Akron that has been three years in the making.
"I cannot believe we are finally talking about this," Service Director Valerie Wax Carr said May 21.
The water sharing agreement, with an accompanying tax sharing agreement and separate boundary adjustments, were discussed at Council's May 21 committee meeting, making talks that began in 2004 with the closing of the Hardy Road landfill a step closer to ending.
As part of the Hardy Road landfill closure contract reached by the cities of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls in October 2004, the cities agreed "in good faith" to negotiate a water agreement, Carr said. The proposed water, tax sharing and boundary adjustment agreements are the results of those talks, Carr said.
"I'm glad to see this come together after a number of years in negotiations between the mayors' staffs in both of our communities," Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic said in a May 23 press release.
Both Cuyahoga Falls and Akron City Councils need to approve the agreements and the county's approval also is needed on the boundary adjustments, Carr said. Falls City Council meets May 29 and Akron City Council convenes June 4.
The water and tax sharing agreement mainly impacts homes and businesses along Akron-Peninsula Road from Portage Trail to Towpath Village. While these locations are in Cuyahoga Falls, they receive Akron water.
Businesses and homes along Akron-Peninsula Road not currently receiving Akron water will have the option of tying into the service with a 45 percent surcharge from Akron. Those who are not tied into the Akron system use well water or truck in water, city officials said.
Towpath Village water lines, which are also along Akron-Peninsula Road, would be serviced by Akron rather than Cuyahoga Falls under the deal. Those residents would pay a 45 percent surcharge for Akron water instead of the 77 percent surcharge they now pay covering both Akron and former Northampton Township fees.
By switching the service to Akron, Carr said the city could save $700,000 in future repairs.
The parts of Sand Run, Sourek Trail, Kubic, Sandhill, Dillon Drive and Pinebrook Trail not serviced by city water would have the option of tying into Akron water at a price. City officials said the majority of the homes have well water.
Carr said if residents along those roads wish to have city water, a new Akron line could be installed and extended to them and assessed to each homeowner on the basis of front footage. Residents could then tie in to the line.
Cuyahoga Falls also would have the ability to install fire hydrants off Akron water lines, Carr added.
Cuyahoga Falls will perform all pavement and surface restoration on roadways where Akron has performed water system service and/or repair work.
According to city officials, Cuyahoga Falls would share 50 percent of income taxes from new nonresidential water customers with Akron. The city would not need to share income taxes with Akron from businesses that are currently customers of Akron water unless business ownership changes, Carr said.
Boundaries to be adjusted
Council also discussed a boundary adjustment agreement the cities negotiated.
Jennifer Syx, deputy director of the Falls community development department, said four properties off Smith Road would be transferred to Akron while one property off Ascot Parkway would be transferred to Cuyahoga Falls. Akron would gain approximately 23 acres while Cuyahoga Falls would gain more than 20 acres.
Carr said the land swap is logical because the parcels are surrounded by land within the other city's limits and the other city will become responsible for providing services such as water, sewer and safety.
Council will meet beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the community room of the Natatorium, 2345 Fourth St. May 29. Council will not meet May 28 -- a Monday -- because it is Memorial Day.