STEUBENVILLE - City Manager Tim Boland will negotiate a letter of engagement with the Ohio Auditor's office to conduct a performance audit of the city's water and wastewater funds - including the delinquent water account collection process.
City Council did not object to Boland's request to continue discussions with the auditor.
Once a letter of engagement is completed, Boland will bring the document back to the council for approval.
"I am now recommending council allow me to proceed with the agreement not to exceed $70,000," Boland said. "The performance audit is expected to last eight to nine months. They will look at efficiencies and make recommendations on how we should proceed."
Boland said he decided to ask for the performance audit because people have approached him with concerns over the past few weeks.
"The delinquent water accounts have been a lingering issue," he said. "The auditors' recommendations may mean a cost savings and efficiencies for the city. The city needs to address the issues in a proactive manner."
Second Ward Councilman Mike Johnson welcomed the performance audit, calling it "a move in the right direction."
"The state auditors have said a performance audit can mean the cost of the audit can be offset by saving of four to 20 times the cost of the audit. I will take that any day," Johnson said.
Sixth Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna said he would also like to see the money spent on the new water filtration plant on University Boulevard and the new City Hall building included in this audit.
"I want no doubt left after this is over," he said.
The idea of a performance audit by the state auditor's office was raised at a December 2012 council meeting by former City Manager Cathy Davison. Council's Finance Committee rejected the idea at that time.
During the public forum of Tuesday's council meeting, city resident Joe Scalise questioned council members and administration officials about a frack tank at the city's wastewater plant.
"We need to know what is going on there. I want some answers on what is put into that tank from the Apex Landfill and then into the wastewater plant in case something happens there," he said.
According to Wastewater Superintendent Chuck Murphy, the material from the landfill is being monitored by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Health.
"I have yet to find an agency that has any concerns," Murphy said. "But we continue to monitor the material and the plant 24 hours a day, seven days a week."