You, the citizens of Avon Lake, elect the Board of Municipal Utilities to represent your wants and needs with respect to the water you drink and how the wastewater you produce is treated. In this respect, the Board assures the staff of Avon Lake Municipal Utilities (ALMU) provides high-quality water and wastewater services at a reasonable price.
With the Board’s oversight, ALMU provides drinking water that meets all public health standards, consistently wins taste test awards and is among the bottom 1% in annual cost to customers. Similarly, ALMU treats wastewater to meet environmental standards for discharge into Lake Erie, is consistently separating combined sewers to reduce combined sewer overflows into the Lake, and is among the bottom 5% in annual cost to customers.
The Avon Lake City Charter enacted by the voters in 1951 established the Board of Municipal Utilities as an elected body separate from City Council and granted it the authority to oversee public utilities owned by the City. The charter gives the Board independence to act how it sees fit to provide these services to you. Recently, the Board learned that wording in the charter prevents the Board from going into executive sessions. This is a result of a series of Ohio Supreme Court rulings first decided in 1988 that required chartered cities to amend their charters. When the City Council put the charter amendment in front of the voters in 2005, they mistakenly only included language to allow the Council to enter into executive session and forgot to include language that allowed the Board to also enter into executive session.
When the Board learned it did not have the ability to enter into executive sessions, it immediately approached City Council and asked them to bring a charter change to the voters to allow the Board the ability to enter into executive session, as allowed by the general laws of Ohio. We understand that Council believes it is important for the Board to have this ability so that the board may discuss behind closed doors security matters, imminent or pending litigation, collective bargaining issues, personnel matters, purchase of property, or matters required to be kept confidential.
Unfortunately, the City Council has tied a requirement for the Board to change its meeting date to the executive session amendment. This is unacceptable to the Board of Municipal Utilities. One elected body should not tell another elected body what to do. In a meeting between Council and Board members, Board Chairman Charles Whitmer likened it to the elephant’s trunk coming under the tent, implying the question where would the Council stop.
The Board of Municipal Utilities reports directly to you, our customers (the citizens of Avon Lake). The Board encourages you to contact staff directly if you have any concern. You can send a letter to our Board c/o ALMU at 201 Miller Road, Avon Lake, OH 44012 or you can call them at the phone numbers listed here. If you want the Board to change its meeting date, let us know that. Also, tell your Council member if you don't want Council deciding the Board must change its meeting date in the executive session charter amendment. Rather, if you want, tell them you want to decide each question separately. Council is set to discuss this in the Collective Committee Meeting on Monday, May 7 and then vote on it in a special meeting after the committee meeting.
As always, customers can call us with any questions or comments during office hours (8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) at 440-933-6226 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For after-hours emergencies, call 440-933-3229. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website to keep up to date on important aspects of your water and wastewater service.
Our goal: Healthy customers, healthy environment through sustainable water management.