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East Liverpool and BWD can find common ground

June 10, 2012
Morning Journal News

Six months ago we editorialized that Buckeye Water District's payment of $4.8 million awarded to the city of East Liverpool in a breach-of-contract lawsuit was long overdue and it was time for BWD to pay the piper.

That was six months ago, but to date, East Liverpool has still not received any money.

There has been some movement toward a settlement recently and last week a court order was issued committing Columbiana County commissioners to depositing $1.5 million with the clerk of courts to help resolve the lawsuit.

Originally the courts ordered BWD to pay East Liverpool $9.5 million after the water district quit purchasing water from East Liverpool in 2005 despite a contract signed in 1994 agreeing to buy the city's water for another 20 years.

An appeals court later reduced the award to $4.8 million and the Ohio Supreme Court in January declined to hear BWD's appeal of the judgment.

East Liverpool tried suing the county because commissioners had operated the water district prior to creating the BWD. The $1.5 million deposited by county commissioners was in exchange for the city dropping the county from the lawsuit.

Last month the BWD offered East Liverpool $5 million to settle the lawsuit, but the city refused, saying it wouldn't take less than $5.9 million which is still $400,000 less than it says it is owed because of accrued interest on the judgment.

In refusing to accept the $5 million settlement East Liverpool Mayor Jim Swoger noted, "This is all their (BWD) doing. We didn't create this." He's right. BWD was in the wrong. The court says so and we agree.

However, this saga has to end somewhere and we hope both parties can find some middle ground between the $5 million offered and the $5.9 million sought. It's costing both sides a bundle in attorneys' fees and it can't go on forever. Let's get the BWD fiasco settled once and for all.



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