A congressman’s call made city officials rather happy.
During Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting, Mayor John Stanforth told attendees he received the call from U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15th District) in regards to the ongoing issue with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
“I just had the best news that I’ve gotten since I’ve been mayor,” said Stanforth. “Steve Stivers had called me. So, we had finally have gotten somebody’s attention with authority on the way that Caesar Creek/Army Corps of Engineers has taken advantage of us.”
Stanforth quoted Stivers as saying, “They have screwed you over the last 50 years” and that Stivers will be serious in “holding their feet to the fire.”
Stanforth then gave credit to Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker for this work with this.
“(Shidaker) was not taking no for an answer,” he said.
At the meeting, Shidaker described getting the phone call as “very exciting.”
Shidaker and other city officials had met with ODNR in Columbus last July about the ongoing issues with the contract between the city, the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Under the series of contracts, the city is required to pay 12.7 percent of the operations and maintenance costs related to the storage of water at Caesar Creek Lake, including labor-related costs. The Army Corps determines what costs are passed on and, until recently, provided no information on the specific expenses the annual bills cover.
The state’s only role in the contracts is to pass along bills from the Army Corps and payments from the city. The state retains none of the funds.
Because of the intervention of ODNR and Stivers, the city obtained 11 years of data containing thousands of expenses that were the basis of the operations and maintenance bills the city received over the years, Shidaker said.
A few of the items the city is contesting including bird seed, bedding for animals and many expenses related to the Visitors Center.