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Consider Private Utility Company

Too often, when trying to find solutions to challenges, public officials look only for the most promising approach within government. That sometimes is not the best answer for their constituents.

St. Clairsville officials are being asked to think out of the government box. They are right to be doing so.

Like so many municipalities in our area, St. Clairsville provides water and sewage disposal services through an aged infrastructure. Keeping it in operation and meeting state and federal requirements can be an expensive proposition.

Last week, St. Clairsville City Council members met with an official of Aqua Ohio, a private company that provides water and sewerage services to about 500,000 people. Anthony Mancari, director of corporate development for the firm, told council Aqua Ohio has been in business for about 130 years.

That tells council members several things. Among them is that the company’s longevity indicates a certain level of satisfaction with its services.

Aqua Ohio officials are interested in buying and operating St. Clairsville’s water and sewerage service. Mancari noted it has spent more than a year evaluating the municipal utility.

“This is just the first step in the process,” he told council members.

No decisions are likely to be made soon, city safety and service Director Jim Zucal emphasized last week. But, he added, council should be exploring all its options regarding water and sewer service. Expensive repairs and upgrades will be needed in the not-too-distant future, he explained.

A public meeting to discuss potential sale of the systems may be held in December. No doubt more would be scheduled if city officials decide to proceed with the plan.

Both St. Clairsville officials and utility customers should give the proposal careful consideration. At first glance, it may seem strange. Most people in our area rely on local government for water and sewer service, after all.

But why is that necessary? St. Clairsville residents and businesses need reliable, reasonably priced water and sewer service. That, not where the bills are paid, is the important thing.

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