AVON LAKE — The city’s longtime chairman of the Avon Lake Board of Municipal Utilities is retiring after 17 years.
Charles Whitmer will step down Monday after serving since 1995. Whitmer was chairman of the board for 13 years.
During his years on the board, the city saw its customer base grow by a significant amount while increasing capacity at its water filtration plant by approximately 50 percent, according to Todd Danielson, chief utilities executive for Avon Lake.
That substantial growth was achieved in large part by the construction of a second major transmission line that now provides water to more than 185,000 customers in a five-county area including Medina County, households within the Rural Lorain County Water Authority, and the municipalities of North Ridgeville, Avon, Sheffield and Sheffield Lake.
Wastewater treatment service is provided for Avon and Lorain County Rural Wastewater District customers.
This expansive service area has enabled the city to maintain some of the lowest water and wastewater rates for its own residents.
“At this point, 85 percent of our water service is provided outside the city of Avon Lake,” Danielson said.
The most recent Ohio Environmental Protection Agency survey of water and wastewater service rates statewide conducted in 2010 indicated that Avon Lake’s annual water and sewer rates were $110 and $236 respectively, based on state EPA average usage of 7,756 gallons a month, according to Danielson.
Whitmer is president of the Whitmer Co., a consulting and distribution business involved with the design, construction and servicing of commercial swimming pools.
He credited the utilities board’s distinctive nature with putting the city in such a good position.
Established in 1925, the board was created as a separate agency under its own control rather than that of City Hall, which allowed the board over time to expand service outside the city.
“The whole concept was to grow business, and this has allowed us to keep our rates down and infrastructure strong,” Whitmer said. “A lot of cities wish they were structured that way because it would give them a lot more flexibility to grow.”
Interest by the city of Westlake to have water service provided by Avon Lake instead of Cleveland fits into the agency’s overall strategic plans, according to Whitmer.
“One of the components of that plan is continued growth, and Westlake’s overtures to us fits into that very nicely,” he said.
The idea is “not just a talking paper,” Whitmer said. “This is being seriously considered.”
The city’s original Sept. 24 deadline for those interested to submit resumes and letters to fill out Whitmer’s remaining term to Dec. 31, 2015, has been extended because of the fact that only two candidates applied by the original deadline.
“We know there are a few more interested applicants,” Danielson said.
The board’s five members are elected by public vote. Each is paid $3,000 a year. Interviews will be conducted Monday, with a second round to come later.
The board hopes to select a finalist by Oct. 30. After that date, the appointment would be made by Mayor Greg Zilka, Danielson said. Applicants must have resided in Avon Lake for at least two years to apply for the post.
Interested individuals should visit www.avonlakewater.org or call Todd Danielson, chief utilities executive, at (440) 933-6226 to learn more. Cover letters and resumes should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.