By Bob Sandrick, special to

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — The city is planning to build sanitary sewers on Howe Road from Falmouth Drive south to Boston Road.

The estimated $1.5 million project would cover a distance of about 2,000 feet and bring sanitary sewers for the first time to 33 households. Residents benefiting from the sewers would pay part of the cost through annual assessments over 20 years.

Erin Sullivan Lally — who vied unsuccessfully for the vacant Ward 2 City Council seat earlier this year — wants to slow down the sewer project. She said there are too many unanswered questions.

“This is the seventh sewer project the city has done, and in the past they have not notified people in advance and told them how they would be assessed,” Lally told “I would like to see that changed, because it would be fairer to residents.”

City officials, without naming Lally, said she has distributed “misleading” cautionary information to Ward 2 residents about the assessments. They said they will eventually notify residents about the project, and that homeowners receiving sewers will have time to appeal the assessment amounts if they choose.

Last week, City Council placed on first reading a resolution declaring the Howe sewer project necessary. The resolution is the first step toward moving forward with the work.

Legal lingo

The resolution contains convoluted legal language about the assessments. It says the city will pay “its portion of the costs … plus the costs attributable to pavement replacement not otherwise required as part of the sanitary sewer project, plus 25 percent of the costs of the improvement.”

Residents receiving sanitary service together will pay 63.4615 percent of the remaining costs, the resolution states. Each resident’s financial responsibility will be “assessed in proportion to the benefits that may result from the improvement upon any lot …”

The resolution also states that the city “shall also assume and pay the costs of the improvement less the city portion and the assessment portion (such costs being the connection charge portion), it being the intent of this council that the connection charge portion, including interest thereon, be recouped in the form of additional connection charges …”

“I don’t know what that means,” Lally said in a May 21 Facebook post a few hours before that night’s council meeting. “Who determines these costs and how are they calculated? Is the taxed benefit based on frontage? Number of bathrooms? Water usage?”

The resolution states that the project cost will also include “any damages resulting from the improvement and the interest thereon …” In her Facebook post, Lally questioned what “damages” meant in the context of the resolution.

Lally said council should place the resolution on first reading at its next meeting instead of passing it as an emergency measure, as originally planned.