Elected officials and lawyers representing Sandusky and Erie County met in court on Tuesday in hopes of settling a long-lingering water lawsuit.
Here’s the major points from the daylong conference inside Erie County Common Pleas Court:
The outcome: Still undetermined.
Neither side could find common ground on determining the exact price for which Sandusky will sell water to Erie County.
The trial date: Still undetermined.
Officials from both governments previously told the Register that if neither side could compromise on a specific rate by Tuesday, then a trial — likely a lengthy and costly one — would happen.
A judge apparently saw enough good faith between both sides to delay a trial — for now. The court set a date of July 25 for both parties to provide a progress report. Depending on what occurs then, the case could go to trial.
“The object is to avoid a trial,” Sandusky ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. said. “A trial has its own costs, and we want to avoid those costs. We were unable to reach progress, but both sides demonstrated flexibility. There were some new ideas brought to the table, and we are going to continue working on that.”
The two sides will continue meeting informally.
The dispute: Erie County commissioners claim they pay Sandusky too much for water; Sandusky city commissioners claim Erie County pays too little for water.
Almost two years ago, Sandusky city commissioners filed an $8.5 million lawsuit, alleging Erie County has underpaid the city for water purchases and violated other provisions from a 2006 agreement.
Sandusky commissioners and Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo favor the proposed volume-driven rate formula to set a starting purchasing price, which would be dictated by how much water the county purchases from the city.
It’s not clear what pricing formula is supported by the other two Erie County commissioners, Tom Ferrell and Bill Monaghan.