Toledo, suburbs to pick facilitator for regional water authority talks

Toledo, suburbs to pick facilitator for regional water authority talks

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The city of Toledo and the suburban communities are moving forward with plans to create a regional water system, but with some help.

During a meeting Wednesday, board members voted to bring in a facilitator.

"You have to have someone who is not tied to any one particular interest, and that's the beauty of using a third-party neutral, a neutral party to helps us to navigate and think outside the box," said Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.

The goal of a regional water authority is to give all the communities who get water from Toledo a say in the water treatment plant, and to help equalize water rates.

While the community leaders agree they want to create a regional water authority, there are still some differences in how to make that happen.

Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough, among other suburban mayors, says he wants to share in the ownership of Toledo's water treatment plant.

Ownership was not included in Toledo's regional water proposal during Wednesday's meeting, but the suburbs were asked to pay for future water treatment improvements.

"We need something to show for that in the end, otherwise we're going to look to building our own plant and have ownership that way," said Stough.

Mayor Stough say a shared ownership of the plant is a necessity during these discussions. He says he's still looking at the possibility of breaking with Toledo to get water somewhere else.

"To keep the negotiations going we have to have other options, otherwise it's back to a monopoly," said Stough. "So we will continue going down those routes."

Mayor Hicks-Hudson says Toledo citizens would need to vote to share ownership. When asked if she would consider putting it to a citizen vote, she responded:

"At this point I can't answer that because there's too many issues that have to be addressed," said Hicks-Hudson.

The next meeting is April 5, when people will pitch who they think the facilitator should be.

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