Vandergrift officials unhappy with $8.2M loan for sewer project
Faced with the cost of a major sewer project, Vandergrift officials are balking on accepting $11 million in aid from the state.
The money is for the second phase of the sewer-separation project that would satisfy a state and federal government mandate.
Council President Brian Carricato said he and some other officials were taken aback because 75 percent of the aid, $8.2 million, is in the form of a low-interest loan. The rest, $2.68 million, is a grant that the borough does not have to repay. They question if residents can afford to accept the package.
“We're happy and we're disappointed in a way. We were hoping for a 50/50 split,” Carricato said. “$8.2 million is a lot of money to take out as a loan.”
But, state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Pittsburgh, says it's a cost that the borough and its residents will have to bear.
“These are obligations we can no longer ignore,” Ferlo said. “The council can't just keep kicking the can down the street. At some point, they're going to be facing significant fines from the federal government.”
The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment (Penn-VEST) board recommended the loan/grant package to complete the second phase of Vandergrift's four-phase effort to separate its sanitary and storm sewers. That is being done to reduce sewage flow to the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority treatment plant and avoid overflows of raw sewage into the Kiski River.
Work on the project's first phase started in April 2012 and is nearly complete. A $4.2 million state grant paid for that.
The second phase is the largest, covering about half the town, between 1,100 and 1,200 buildings.
The $11 million was included in $91 million awarded for 22 projects in 20 counties. It consists of $84 million in low-interest loans and $7 million in grants. Vandergrift was the only Alle-Kiski Valley community to receive funding.
Council has not decided if it will accept the money.
Carricato estimates accepting the loan will more than double the quarterly sewage bill for residents, from $30 to about $65, to repay the loan over 30 years.
“To me, that's too much. It's not affordable,” Carricato said. “It's entirely too much to ask from residents.”
Carricato said the loan and the grant are likely linked — if council rejects the loan it will also lose the grant. If that happens, Carricato said, the borough's only option would be to not do the second phase of the project.
Ferlo, who announced the funding to Vandergrift, said rejecting the loan would be a bad decision.
The longer Vandergrift delays, the more the work will cost, Ferlo said.
“They're going to pay now or they're going to pay more later. They've ignored the issue for a long time,” he said. “If they didn't want to proceed why did they apply for the grant and the loan? It's not an issue they can run from and ignore any longer.”
Carricato said council will discuss the loan when it meets at 7 p.m. May 13. That meeting date is a week later than usual, and was rescheduled because of council member availability.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Harrison man held in jail on molestation charges
- New Kensington-Arnold School Board reviews facilities use policy
- CNG station approved for Harmar
- Second-graders at Fawn Elementary School hold forth on origin, meaning of Thanksgiving
- Deer Lakes School Board gives $10,000 raise to new Superintendent Logue-Belden
- Cheswick super fan, 90, has had season tickets for almost 70 years
- ATI requests shelters be moved
- Indiana Township bridge over the Pa. Turnpike to reopen Wednesday
- Armstrong ranks 4th in nation among most-armed counties
- ATI Steelworker cited for picket-line incident in Harrison pays fine
- Freeport Area High School students participate in Entrepreneurship Day