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Winfield Township places liens on 33 properties to secure sewer tap-in fees

| Sunday, May 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Winfield Township has placed liens on 33 properties because the owners haven't paid to tap into the new sewage system in the Cabot section of the municipality.

Residents are required to pay a $5,000 tap-in fee, plus other costs to run a line from their home to tie in.

Of the 33 liens, three home­owners are on four-year payment plans, township Supervisor Matt Klabnik said.

“There aren't as many people on the payment plan as we would like,” he said.

Gray Avenue resident Christine Thompson said although having a lien isn't ideal, she wished she would have known about the payment plan option.

“I wouldn't have had to take out a loan that I'm having trouble paying,” she said.

Thompson said she knew the sewer line was going in when she bought the house about a year ago and agrees it was needed, but the cost has been a hardship for her and her neighbors.

“I think it stinks that it was so expensive,” Thompson said.

The $8 million project connects about 320 homes to the Municipal Authority of Buffalo Township. It was completed in July.

The state Department of Environmental Protection mandated that the township put in public sewage in Cabot because some septic systems were leaking into Little Buffalo Creek.

“The project wasn't something that the township sought,” Klabnik said.

The township financed the project with two low-interest loans from state programs. It will use the tap-in fees to make the debt service payments.

Until last month, a trailer park along Winfield Road hadn't tapped into the system, said Joanne McKruit, who owns Bernie's Mobile Home Park with her husband, Bernard.

The McKruit family paid about $300,000 in tap-in fees for the 72 trailers and two homes at the park.

“We didn't think we should have been tapped in because our sewage system worked perfectly well,” she said.

But the township cited an agreement her husband signed when the trailer park opened in the 1960s. He agreed to tap into public sewage if it ever became available.

“That was only when we had a few trailers,” said Joanne McKruit, whose husband is in a nursing home.

“We were fighting for our rights and we didn't know if we were going to close or not,” she said. “Out of the clear blue sky I said, ‘my husband Bernie, this was his dream... all his life he worked so hard on this park.'”

She said tapping into the sewage system means she'll also have to pay to remove the old-style sewage treatment and remediate the site.

She said she's unsure how much that will cost.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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