By Kevin Kelley
At its regular meeting tonight, Westlake City Council will introduce an ordinance authorizing Mayor Dennis Clough to extend the city’s water service agreement with Cleveland. However, the ordinance does not necessarily mean an end to the dispute between the two municipalities is nearing.
Council President Mike Killeen told West Life that an extension of the current water agreement is only one of several options the suburb is considering.
“I think it makes it clear that we’re considering that alternative among many other alternatives,” the council president said.
Killeen said the council would not take a vote on the proposed ordinance tonight. In fact, as the proposed ordinance stands now, a yet to be filled in blank exists in the document indicating the length of time the current water service agreement would be extended.
For several years, Westlake has been considering a switch of water suppliers from Cleveland’s Division of Water to Avon Lake Municipal Utilities. On Sept. 30, Cleveland sent a letter to its Westlake water customers stating they would be charged nearly $300 a quarter for costs associated with the suburb’s departure from its system. Cleveland officials have interpreted a May 2 letter form Clough to Cleveland Public Utilities Director Paul Bender as a termination notice. Clough has denied this, stating the letter only informed Cleveland officials of the date the current water service agreement ends. That dispute is one of many between the central city and the suburb.
Clough and Cleveland Water officials appeared before the public utilities committee of Cleveland City Council Wednesday afternoon. Both sides repeated their differing interpretations of the current water agreement as the committee considered the ordinance that would charge Westlakers the additional $300 quarterly fee. Although committee chairman Terrell Pruitt convinced both sides to have their engineers meet on possible solutions, each side appeared entrenched in its view.
The introduction by Westlake City Council of the proposed ordinance extending the current water agreement appears to be more of a maneuver rather than an indication of a coming truce. Killeen noted that the proposed ordinance was on council’s agenda before Wednesday’s Cleveland City Council committee meeting.
“It wasn’t a reaction to that meeting because the (Westlake City Council) agenda was out first,” the council president said.