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Water Quality in Chagrin Falls

Water Quality ReportFrom the Mayor’s Office:

I have had some questions from residents regarding the safety of our drinking water and if lead was present in the water. First of all any lead in the water, almost without question, comes from sources within your own home. Lead is rarely, if ever, present in the water at the source and it is regularly check at our water plant.
Lead comes from solder used in copper pipe joints that were put in place prior to 1986. Water pipe solder has not contained lead since 1986. Also, in some of our older homes lead pipes themselves may have been used to connect the house to the underground water main.


Orthophosphate additives are added to the water before it leaves the plant to prevent the water passing through the pipes from leaching lead out of the joint solder or, if present, lead pipes. These Orthophosphate additives are corrosion inhibitors that chemically react with dissolved metals in the water to form a very thin metal-phosphate coating on the inside of the pipes and home plumbing. This film protects the pipes and fixtures from being dissolved into the drinking water.


The Village does test water from various homes in the system as required by the EPA. All of the homes are older, pre 1986 construction, and the results show that most, (90%), of the samples are at or below 2.0 ppb in lead content which is well below the action level. The recommended action level is 15 ppb. This lets us know that our corrosion control methods are working by direct sampling.


There is no need for individuals to test their water but they are welcome to do so if they have concerns. The Village uses an EPA certified lab BIOSOLUTIONS, LLC, 10180 Queens Way #6, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023 Phone: 440-708-2999 × Fax: 440-708-2988.

~Mayor William Tomko

Village Budget Explained: Regionalized Fire Department, Part II

firedepartmentFrom the Mayor’s Office:

Last week I started my informational posts about the village’s operations and the services offered by discussing the Fire Department and how the Hazardous Material protection and response has been regionalized. Before I go any further I need to explain how for the last 100 years the Fire Department was and is organized as a regional fire protection service. Judging from the questions I have been asked over the years, this might be the most misunderstood aspect of the village’s operations. Hopefully this post will provided you with a clearer understanding of the fire departments regional operation and cost sharing achieved by this arrangement.

The Village has benefited from regionalized fire protection since 1897 when the Fire Department was formed. Prior to 1934 the village provided fire protection to a wide area outside the municipal boundaries. In 1934 the Village decided not to provide these services outside of the Village. The Fire Department members at the time, led by Brick Harris, decided to form a non-profit corporation to provide fire services via contract to the communities in the area that wanted it. The Chagrin Falls Suburban Volunteers Fireman’s Association Incorporated (Suburban Department) was formed and started providing Fire Protection to area communities in the Valley. Today the Suburban Department provides fire protection services to: the Villages of Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Bentleyville, South Russell and Chagrin Falls Township. It is important to point out that your tax dollars do not directly support the Suburban Fire Department, fire protection agreements with these other communities do. So when you pass by the fire station you are really seeing two fire departments that are closely related but independent.

This shared facility arrangement has provided many cost savings to both departments. They currently cost share on: fire protective gear, insurance, radios and pagers, firefighting equipment, hose, fire training, and breathing apparatus among others. One large example is the Suburban Fire Department has paid for the station house you see today. This has saved the Village over $800,000.00 dollars. As a part of the shared facility agreement the Village has agreed to maintain the buildings along with providing a long term lease to allow the Suburban Fire Department to locate in the Village.

So what do your tax dollars provide? The only pieces of equipment that has been purchased solely with Chagrin Falls tax dollars is the Fire Prevention Car and the Ladder truck which is required for fighting fires in multiple story commercial structures. The reason for this is Chagrin Falls is the only community within the Suburban Fire department’s service area with extensive multi story commercial structures. All other apparatus and equipment costs are shared with the communities under contract with the Suburban Department. The Village currently employs a part time Fire Chief (split with the Suburban department), a full time Fire Marshal and 48 part time firefighters. These part time firefighters are only paid per call when they respond to a fire related incident in the Village. They receive $28.19 for their services whether the call lasts 15 min or 8 hours. I think that is a pretty good deal. It should be noted that the village receives a significant benefit from having a joint fire station located within the Village, reduced response times and seconds count.

The full time Fire Marshal inspects all commercial property within the Village. Three years ago regional agreements were put in place to share the costs of these services with the Villages of Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Chagrin Falls Township and Bentleyville. I think you will agree prevention is the best approach to firefighting. These efforts in the areas of fire prevention and fighting along with improved training and water main upgrades helped to improve our Fire insurance rating from a class 5 to a class 3. This saves you money every year on your home owners and commercial insurance policies.

Besides Firefighting and Fire Prevention, the Fire Department provides extensive services from the hazardous materials response discussed last week to: motor vehicle accidents, carbon monoxide in homes, natural gas leaks to residential smoke alarm assistance, blood pressure checks, residential home fire safety surveys, and the famous Haunted Fire house provided to our children at Halloween.

What is the cost of these services to the village? The budget for “Fire Protection” and other related services in 2015 was $300,000 dollars or an annual cost per resident $73.00; a little over $1.30 per week, less than the price of a single cup of coffee. Regionalization can save significant amounts of money; that is why we have been doing it for over 100 years.

My next installment will explain how the village residents receive and pay for our Emergency Medical Services.

Mayor Bill Tomko

Utilities Bills To Be Adjusted

From the Mayor’s Office:

An error has occurred in the application of the November 2015 utility rate increase to your January 2016 utility bill.

It was the previous council and administration’s intent that the rate increase be applied to the quarter billed in January 2016 and subsequent billings. A drafting error occurred in preparing the ordinance. The ordinance as passed by council and signed by Mayor Brick on November 24, 2015 actually only applied to water and sewer usage subsequent to January 1, 2016. Accordingly, all utility users were over charged for water and sewer usage billed with the current January 2016 bill.

To rectify this error, you will be issued a credit for the over charge on your next utility bill mailed to you in April 2016. Anyone who received a “Final Bill” prior to this date will be issued a check refunding the over payment. Due to the utility billing not being on a quarterly calendar basis you will not be charged the new rate until you receive the July 2016 bill. The April billing will be calculated using the old rate.

We are sorry for any confusion this error may have caused you. Your village government wishes to be completely transparent in all matters, and if we make a mistake it will be rectified in a timely manner.

~Mayor William Tomko

Village Budget Explained: Regionalization In The Fire Department

firedepartmentFrom the Mayor’s Office:

During the recent campaign for Mayor I was asked many times why doesn’t the Village regionalize services and save money. The answer was and is the Village has regionalized all of its services with the exception of road maintenance. I thought it would a good idea to take each department and explain how and the extent that the various departments have regionalized their services.

I will start with the Fire Department.

Our Fire Department responds to Hazardous Material incidents within the Valley and all of our members are certified to basic operations level. In 1990 the need was recognized to provide a more comprehensive response relating to all Hazardous Material incidents. Chagrin Falls joined with many other communities to form The Chagrin/Southeast Hazmat response team. This team consists of 30 specially trained firefighters certified as Hazmat Technicians. The Chagrin/Southeast Hazmat response team is one of 4 special Hazmat teams in the county. They all respond in their respective areas to mitigate all Hazardous Material incidents. These 4 teams collectively form two type 1 Hazmat teams that respond to terrorist attacks within our areas.

By being a member of this regional Hazmat team through shared service agreements the Village has access to the Hillcrest and Heights area special rescue teams. These teams consist of specially training firefighters from the area and respond when requested along with our Fire department to specialized rescue situations within the Valley. With these agreements in place we also have access to the Urban Search and Rescue team from region 2 within the State of Ohio. This team most recently responded to the Intermediate school to build a shoring system under the failing front stairwell and earlier in 2015 responded to a residence on Elm Court to build a shoring system in a residence after flood waters collapsed the foundation wall. The Village of Chagrin Falls receives regional response from 4 highly specialized teams consisting of over 100 trained firefighters in our area including 6 Firefighters from Chagrin Falls.

What does this cost our Village? $3500.00 dollars per year – a very cost effective means to assure Chagrin Falls maintains a high skill level and insures our community is protected and ready to respond should an emergency arise.

I look forward to passing on additional cost efficiencies related to our Fire Department and other Village services.

Mayor Bill Tomko