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Springdale, Cheswick spar before judge over water labor charges

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Monday, June 19, 2017, 12:30 p.m.

Springdale's taxpayers shouldn't bear the cost of the borough supplying water to Cheswick during an emergency a year ago, the borough's solicitor argued Monday.

But Cheswick's attorney says the labor to provide the water was covered in the cost of the water itself, which Cheswick paid.

Representatives of the neighboring boroughs squared off before District Judge Ron Costa, Sr. in Morningside on Monday. Costa got the case after Harmar Judge David Sosovicka recused himself.

Costa said he has five days to render a decision.

Cheswick normally buys its water from Harmar. Springdale supplied Cheswick with about 772,000 gallons of water from May 28 through June 1, 2016 when Cheswick's connection to Harmar went down.

In its original civil complaint, Springdale argued it was owed nearly $8,000, consisting of about $4,600 for water and another $3,200 for overtime costs.

At the start of the hearing, Springdale Solicitor Craig Alexander amended the borough's complaint to remove the water cost, noting that Cheswick had paid it.

Alexander spoke briefly with Cheswick Solicitor Tony Colangelo before the hearing, but they were unable to resolve the dispute.

Alexander argued that Springdale incurred substantial overtime costs over a holiday weekend to operate its water plant and provide water to Cheswick, at Cheswick's request.

Springdale's charges range from time-and-a-half to double-time-and-a-half, for between four and seven hours. Carmen Canonico, Springdale's operations foreman, testified that under contract employees are paid for at least four hours of overtime when they are called in outside regular hours, even if they work less actual time.

Alexander produced four past invoices for water where Cheswick paid labor costs in addition to paying for water.

But Colangelo noted other instances between 2009 and 2014 where Springdale did not charge Cheswick for labor.

Colangelo noted that for the water, Springdale charged Cheswick the same $6 per 1,000 gallons it assesses on its own residents. That fee, he argued, includes the associated labor costs, including overtime, when it occurs.

Officials agreed there had been no discussion of billing at the time Cheswick made the request for water.

Costa suggested the boroughs clear up such issues in advance in the future.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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