WILMINGTON — A letter from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appears to be a good sign for the city.
Wilmington Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker shared the June 1 letter with the News Journal, from ODNR Director James Zehringer addressed to Col. Antoinette Gant, Commander of the Corps’ Louisville District.
Shidaker said he believes the letter is a step in the right direction; he was also surprised and pleased that the ODNR director signed the letter.
“ODNR’s letter indicates the agency fully supports the city’s effort to get the documentation we need from the Army Corps before we consider paying the operations and maintenance bill,” said Shidaker. “The city is extremely grateful for ODNR’s assistance.”
In the letter, ODNR makes a formal request for the records regarding the cost of the operation and maintenance costs at Caesar Creek Lake, as well as for a decade’s worth of “underpayments” that have been passed on to the city.
The request was made under Article 5.c.(3) of the 1970 contract both groups entered into, which allows them to inspect and examine the records and accountings maintained by the project’s contracting officer.
“The Contracting Officer must maintain all records and accountings of the Project. Furthermore, those records and accounts of the cost of operation and maintenance of the Project must be available for inspection and examination by ODNR,” the letter states.
Zehringer specifically requested three records:
• The 10-year audit conducted by the Corps in June 2017 that resulted in the $187.150.07 charge for “Underpayment for Water Storage 2008-2017” on this year’s billing.
• An itemized list of operation and maintenance costs for each year from 2008 to now.
• “Any documents explaining the costs, the inclusion or exclusion of costs on the submitted bill, or translating or defining internal cost-code.”
“This information is urgently needed as soon as possible to allow the State of Ohio and the City of Wilmington to necessarily understand and explain the significant increase in operation and maintenance costs assessed over the past two years,” the letter states. “As well as the ‘underpayments’ for the past ten years assessed in this year’s invoice.”
The letter was copied to U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-15th District), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).