What is a Section 6119 District?
The City of Toledo and elected officials from communities that purchase water from Toledo have been meeting for many months to explore development of a regional water system. A sub-committee tasked with investigating the legal aspects of a new system presented information about a Section 6119 District (Ohio Revised Code) at a large public meeting on February 3 at TMACOG offices.
The fundamentals of a Section 6119 District are that jurisdictions are permitted to band together to form a regional water and/or sewer district which becomes a separate political entity. Jurisdictional members are represented by a board of trustees. Beyond those basics, the structure can be determined by the members. The board of trustees may include a representative from each member, or can be selected another way. Some working 6119 Districts appoint members to the board of trustees based on population, others based on type of jurisdictions (counties, cities, villages, or townships). There is precedent for including cross-border partners in a 6119 District. (Monroe County, Michigan is a customer of City of Toledo water.) Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada, who leads the legal sub-committee, describes the 6119 District as a flexible structure that can be written to suit the members. It can begin with just water supply and add water treatment later. It can add new members and it can be modified to change rates and voting rules. Rex Huffman of the Northwestern Water & Sewer District in Wood County said that there are more than a hundred districts in Ohio and no two are the same. NWWSD is a 6119 District that was implemented 25 years ago.
At a February 8 meeting of the Regional Water Planning Committee, voting members of the full committee unanimously voted that the legal and technical sub-committees should direct their efforts solely on development of a Section 6119 District, and that the City of Toledo accept the premise as a path forward and begin discussion with the Toledo City Council immediately. The next meeting of the full committee is scheduled for March 8 at 7:30 a.m. At that meeting, representatives of the City of Toledo said they will present the City’s ideas about how a Section 6119 District could be structured.