For the last 12 or more years, the residents of Lincoln Village have been dealing with extreme water prices. During the 2019 Township Trustee Race, this issue was front and center. Last night, during the live-streamed trustee business meeting (which lasted only 15 minutes), Township Administrator, Rob Peters stated that he had received questions about if the water deal were completed and he stated it was not completed and he cited that the COVID shutdowns were responsible for the delay. This is dishonest at best, and it’s very important that the facts are brought to light.
In September and October, when Doug Stormont was running for reelection for his 5th term, he primarily ran on this specific issue, stating that there would be a deal that the City of Columbus would take over the water services from Franklin County and then the Lincoln Village Residents would have their water rates cut by 40% and that would take effect in April of 2020. During Mr. Stormont’s reelection campaign he sent out 2 mailers to all township households and discussed this April date on his website. In multiple trustee meetings, Rob Peters and Trustee Steve Kennedy both reiterated this April timeline.
Mr. Stormont was reelected to his 5th term on November 5th 2019 in a 4-way race. Full disclosure, I was one of the opposing candidates. Mr. Kennedy posted in the NextDoor app on November 7th 2019, (only a couple of days after the 2019 election) reiterating that the goal was April of 2020 and reiterated the 40% savings.
Between March 14th to the end of March of 2020, due to COVID 19, School, restaurants, bars, gyms, and anything deemed “nonessential” was closed down and safe at home / shelter in place orders were signed. Mid April of 2020, Lincoln Village residents received their water bills for January to March of 2020 and discussions on social media confirmed that these bills here over-all, higher than ever. Residents felt frustrated and betrayed by the lack of communication, by feeling like they had been lied to.
On May 6th, in a virtual Trustee Meeting livestreamed to the Township’s FaceBook page, Rob Peters announced that the deal with Franklin County and the City of Columbus was not completed, stating that it was due to the COVID shutdowns. Respectfully, the board of trustees had many years to get the Lincoln Village had multiple terms in office to reach a deal to fix the water prices but it has never happened. Currently, the most recent rounds of promises started again in September of 2019, leaving 7 months to get the deal completed. The shutdowns starting on March 14th came in the final 2 weeks before the target start date. To state that the COVID shutdowns are the cause of the delay in getting the water deal completed is disingenuous at best and wholly dishonest in reality.
Shame on the two trustees who have been in office for 12 and 16 years respectively for using backbreaking utility prices as a way to get reelected. These families are paying, in many cases, the cost of a second mortgage every third month for water, and they aren’t watering their yards or filling their pools if they have them. If the needs of the residents were truly the highest priority, residents would have never been placed in this situation.