New Oil City Home Owner Questions Council as to Why He is Responsible for Previous Owners Water Bill

| January 11, 2019

OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) – A gentleman who recently moved back to Oil City after retiring from the United States Army questioned the Oil City council at its meeting Thursday as to why he was responsible for paying a water bill at his house that was run up by the previous owner.

“I have an issue with a water bill,” Adam Bliss told the council. “The previous owners of the house owes a bill (for approximately $200.00). I am told I have to pay it. I was dumbfounded by it. I want to know why it’s ok for the city to do that.”

Councilman Ron Gustafson explained to Bliss that a water bill can be added as a lien to the property, and City Manager Mark Schroyer told Bliss that was something that the title company should have caught and had paid for out of the previous owners share of the profits made on selling the house.

“This is normal,” Schroyer said. “It’s standard operating procedure at settlement.”

Bliss, who had talked to the City’s Water office prior to bringing his concern to council, said he didn’t agree with Schroyer and the council on that.

“It doesn’t pass the common-sense test,” Bliss said. “It’s not logical. It’s upsetting.

“I don’t know how somebody else’s bill who doesn’t pay is my responsibility.”

Gustafson said the way the City views it the bill is attached to the property not the name of the person who owned the property.

“It’s part of the infrastructure, not the person,” Gustafson said. “The title company should have checked.”

Councilman Michael Poff said he understood Bliss’ concern but also saw the City’s position.

“Your trusted someone when you bought the house, and they didn’t do their job,” Poff said. “But, Oil City doesn’t have the resources to go after people (in delinquency) so we put a lien on the house.”

Bliss responded by saying a policy like that hurts good, responsible people.

“You should go talk to your settlement company,” Poff said.

After the meeting, Gustafson and Schroyer told exploreVenango that the City policy goes back a long way.

“It’s kind of similar to a tax lien,” Gustafson said. “It’s essential to the residence to have water. You can’t live there without water.”

Councilman Dale Massie told exploreVenango that it was the settlement company’s job to catch it and take care of it.

“Someone missed the ball,” Massie said.

IBEW CONTRACT AGREED TO

The council agreed to the recently negotiated IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) contract that will run from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2021.

The contract calls for a 2.5 percent raise for all union members in each year of the contract. It will also pay out longevity payments ranging from 1.0 percent for workers who have been employed from five to 10 years to 3.0 percent for workers employed 40-plus years with steps in between for workers who have worked 11 to 15 years (1.25 percent), 16 to 20 years (1.50 percent), 21 to 25 years (1.75 percent), 26 to 30 years (2.0 percent), 31 to 35 years (2.25 percent) and 36 to 39 years (2.50 percent). ‘

“The negotiations overall were good,” Schroyer said. “For what the City’s financial position is, I believe it’s a fair contract and I think the IBEW thinks it’s fair. I appreciate their hard work and cooperation on the contract.”

2016 CDBG CONTRACT REVISED

The council agreed to a request to update the 2016 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) contract activity funding transferring $465.39 from the loan payment on the fire truck to the administrative fund.

The fire truck activity was originally funded with $62,000.00 of CDBG money but was paid off in the amount of $61,534.61.

Kelly Amos, Oil City’s Director of Community Development, told the council that the administration fund had been reduced to only 12.2 percent of the total funding and the administration fund was tight because of additional advertising costs.

“The added money will help pay for an ad,” Amos said.

Amos also mentioned that the 2016 fund still includes $125,000.00 for street reconstruction and $52,203.00 for clearances. She said the streets that were originally slated to be paved with the funds will be changed because the original streets were paved last year. She said the clearance money was still in place because the City was waiting on the state’s Historic Preservation Office.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business the council:

  • Learned that the Zemke and Fourth and Central pump stations projects are complete and the pumps were started and running. Gustafson noted that he had a chance to see the Fourth and Central station and was impressed by it. He believes the new facilities will make the city much more efficient.
  • Heard from Schroyer that Jason Ruggiero of the Venango County Planning Commission said that the Cornplanter Square project could commence by the end of April and that the multi-modal project could start by early summer. “He believes everything is on track,” Schroyer said.
  • Approved the Oil City High School’s Math and Physics Club’s request to host its annual Pi Day Pi K at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 16.
  • Accepted the resignations of Judy Barrett from the Oil City Redevelopment Authority and Margaret Brostrom from the Oil City Shade Tree Commission and appointed Todd Smith to the Shade Tree Commission.
  • Received a letter from Comcast saying that the company is launching Amazon Prime Video on its X1 platform. That means Comcast customers that subscribe to Amazon Prime can now access and watch their favorite Amazon Prime movies and original series via their X1 Service right on their televisions..

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