License to steal
Written by Warren Edstrom
It seems the State of Ohio has just come up with another way to squeeze more money out of the taxpayers. Ever since Gov. Kasich robbed money from municipalities and the school systems to balance the state budget, these groups have been looking for ways to replace the lost revenue.
The Ohio legislature has passed a bill that requires all property owners with septic systems to get a usage permit from the county to the tune of $66.00. In Knox County, we have approximately 18,000 properties with septic systems. That amounts to $1,188,000 in added revenue to the county health department with no increase in services to the taxpayer. I’m sure we can trust them to do the right thing with the money. Some Township Trustees are calling it a “Boondoggle” and rightfully so.
This new mandate will assuredly add a new and expensive layer of bureaucracy, read more government employees, which will certainly be expanded down the line along with the requisite fee increases.
The insidious aspect to this measure would allow for the county or state to tighten the rules to the point where every septic system would fail to comply and everyone would be forced onto a new county sewer system. We are already seeing this happen in Knox County. In 2012 three villages in the County were mandated by the Ohio EPA to abandon their septic systems and connect to a new sewer system installed by the County. Where their septic systems cost them nothing to operate the county now charges $40.00 a month in service fees.
This “mission creep” has happened in the area of water safety where water wells that passed coliform counts 20 years ago are no longer considered safe.
According to the Mt Vernon News, “The press release, issued Friday after county offices closed, said the new sewer program rules will potentially impact more than 18,000 Knox County households. The new sewage program is part of a state wide update of household sewage rules enacted by the Ohio Legislature in 2015, according to the press release”. When you multiply this cost times 88 counties the amount is staggering especially when you consider the funds are not earmarked for a specific purpose.
The new rules establish “Modern standards for system construction, alteration and maintenance” when a septic system fails or breaks, or when a new system is installed”
A health department spokesperson stated that “If a septic system were deemed to need an “assessment” by a certified septic inspector that is where costs would potentially increase”. When you have your septic system pumped and the company doing the work sees a potential problem they will report it to the county health dept.
As of this writing the $66.00 license fee is good for 10 years but we know that once the county gets its hands in our pockets they won’t be able to resist making the fee payment good for a shorter period of time.
After calling the County Auditor’s Office I was told the $1,188,000 will go into the “Sewage Program Fund” to be spent on operation and repair of county sewage systems.