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Akron, Ohio

Mayor Horrigan Withdraws LaDue Oil and Gas Proposal

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Funding still needed for water and sewer infrastructure and program needs

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of City of Akron Press Office
Published: 02-04-2021

Akron, Ohio, February 4, 2021 — Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan has issued the following statement:

Since taking office, one of my principal goals has been to minimize the burden of current and future utility costs for all Akron residents. We have successfully renegotiated two amendments to the very costly CSO consent decree resulting in over $166 million of savings, and implemented generous Utility Bill Relief policies and programming that have provided nearly $1 million in utility relief just in the last 6 months. In order to continue to offer programs like this and to help prepare for additional upcoming water and sewer capital needs, I’ve tasked my staff to continuously and aggressively pursue possible alternate funding and revenue generating opportunities having little to no risk to our community.

The recent LaDue Reservoir proposal to lease underground oil and gas rights for well sites located outside Akron property lines is an example of one of these many initiatives. This project was expected to generate an immediate quarter million dollars in revenue followed by significant royalty revenue over the life of the project. Hundreds of oil and gas wells are already located in our area. The proposal was not the first of its kind and has already been done responsibly in our area for decades. Regardless of the proven track record, I have heard people’s concerns, both from inside and outside of Akron, and I have decided to withdraw the LaDue oil and gas proposal from the Akron City Council Agenda at this time.

I completely understand the public’s concern about irresponsible fracking practices that have occurred in this country, but I’m also troubled about the misinformation used to stir up community concern, when our primary objective is to safeguard the health, economic mobility, and safety of our residents. This proposal would have allowed for Akron’s tight control over the project, with the ability to put the highest of restrictions and protections in place. We pride ourselves on being responsible stewards of the environment and we’ve continuously gone to great lengths to support a wide variety of programs that retain valuable precious resources such as our green energy initiatives, our work to keep record-low lead levels in Akron water, the Akron Tree Canopy program, and our Akron Waterways Renewed program, focused on cleaning up the Cuyahoga River.

Without this potential new revenue, the City continues to be in a precarious spot when it comes to needed funding. Due to our federally mandated $1.2B sewer project, there are sizeable sewer fees already at the feet of Akron ratepayers. To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant reduction in revenues to municipal sewer and water utilities, caused by lack of business activity, and customers’ inability to pay. The City of Akron needs revenue to maintain our vast water infrastructure and to continue to eliminate lead services in this city to get us closer to our goal of zero lead service lines in Akron. We will continue to look at creative ways to safely and responsibly leverage our assets to raise needed revenue.

The fact remains Akron’s current consent decree is crippling the City’s ability to collect reasonable funds to maintain and service our water infrastructure. We continue to work towards a 3rd Amendment to the City’s decree to drastically reduce the total financial burden on the City and produce better environmental solutions. Without the 3rd Amendment receiving approval, the current consent decree mandating millions in expenditures with very little environmental benefit will be unsustainable for the City of Akron.

For further information, contact:
City of Akron Press Office
Phone: 330-375-2754
E-mail: [email protected]

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