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Monagahan: Lead or squander

Register • Jun 16, 2014 at 8:30 AM

The city of Sandusky and Erie County have a working agreement on a volume-based formula for water rates that would streamline city water department billings and provide stability for all county water customers.

It would also set the framework for a settlement in a lawsuit filed by the city against the county, but it's the 11th hour for Erie County Commissioner Bill Monaghan.

While there appears to be general agreement and a consensus on the formula to be used — clearly a giant step forward in the long-simmering disputes between the city and the county — the specific rate within that formula to be charged has not been established.

The spread is somewhere between $1.18 per ccf to $1.31 per ccf.

The city contends the county has been underpaying on its contract obligations and has committed a host of other contract violations since 2006.

Settlement negotiations to avoid letting the lawsuit go to trial broke down last week.

A final settlement hearing scheduled Tuesday is unlikely to have a positive result if Monaghan doesn't show the leadership needed.

As the president of the county commissioner board, Monaghan has attempted to quash any discussion about the rate. 

He slammed commissioner Pat Shenigo for raising the issue at a commission meeting earlier this month, demanding the information be kept secret from the public.

But this is the public's business, and Monaghan was wrong on every point he attempted to make justifying the secrecy. 

Taxpayers will not benefit by leaving this an important decision in the hands of attorneys who will profit if the dispute goes to trial.

Monaghan must make a choice: Sit down across the table from city commissioners and reach an agreement, or squander the best opportunity in years to settle an old, tired problem.

The former is a trifecta providing opportunity to expand revenue for both the city and county and improve water services for every water customer.

The latter is Oslo; a return to the fiefdom mentality that puts petty, self-interest above the common good and has cost county taxpayers dearly in the last three decades.

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