TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - It's one of the biggest decisions facing our community in the coming year, the Toledo Area Water Authority or TAWA.
Several showed up Monday night at the Gesu Sullivan Center to learn more. Some neighbors took the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns about the future of TAWA with Toledo.
"I'm very concerned about what's going to happen to the water situation," Brenda Hill, a Toledo native said.
"The biggest thing is the cost factor," Toledoan Skeeter Oliver explained.
Community members lined up, making their concerns known about TAWA.
"Everybody in here owns a piece of that water plant," one community member stated in the crowd. "Personally, as a small businessman who uses the product, why in the hell would we want to give it away to somebody else?"
"In the TAWA, how much are you giving Toledo for the facility," another Toledo man questioned at Monday's meeting.
Regional water leaders say the valuation of the water plant has not yet been determined. They believe working together in a regional partnership will help mitigate costs for all residents.
"TAWA represents an opportunity to minimize the amount of rate increases that are going to happen," Eric Rothstein, the facilitator for TAWA during the decision process said. "Rates are going up because there is so much reinvestment in the system that's needed, but by working together people can reduce the amount of increases that they will face."
But still, Toledoans were skeptical of the plan.
"Are we being treated fairly for our water plant," Oliver wondered. "Is that going to be in our favor or their favor (the suburbs) and that's probably my biggest question."
"I'm concerned that the board that they are proposing with seven members that is going to make most of the decisions as I understand only has two members from Toledo and five members from the outlying area," Brenda Hill explained. "Which means they will have control over the decisions that are made and that bothers me a lot."
Leaders say all the parties agreed to the board structure, but several community members have raised concerns over the power they think the city would lose within TAWA.
Ultimately, the decision will be before city council and if they approve it the choice will be in front of voters, that's expected in November.
Voters say they still want to learn more and hear directly from city officials about the pros and the cons of a deal like this.
The next regional water community meeting is scheduled for March 29 at 5:30 pm at Nexus Healthcare on Jefferson Avenue.