Council waives tap-in fee for O'Hara property owners who sign easement agreement
O'Hara Council will waive a $3,300 tap-in fee for property owners affected by the Saxonburg Boulevard sewer project if easement agreements are signed by June 30.
Council has struggled to get all 70 owners to sign contracts critical for the project to move forward.
Township Engineer Chuck Steinert said 46 contracts are complete.
“We need 24 more. We have to go to the Department of Environmental Protection with a plan as a whole and we need these easements to bid the project,” he said.
The fee waiver would extend to all 70 property owners, not just the ones still left to sign the agreement.
The $4 million sewer project is expected to deliver reliable service to neighborhood residents who still rely on septic systems. Plans are to eliminate three deteriorating pump stations and replace them with one new one.
It is unclear how much of the cost will fall to property owners. Construction is expected to take up to two years.
Council traditionally has waived tap-in fees for residents connecting to a new sewer line.
Resident Tom Portante questioned the idea. He said the township stands to lose $230,000 on the deal.
“Why wouldn't you push this through as eminent domain?” Portante asked.
Court costs would exceed those lost on the waiver deal, Township Manager Julie Jakubec said. It also would delay the project at least a year, Steinert said.
Council President Bob Smith said implementing a deadline is more of a penalty for those who don't sign by June 30.
“We would waive the fee anyway but if they don't sign, they'll have to pay it,” he said.
Council in April hosted a session for residents to discuss the easements.
Jakubec said many had questions about liability issues during the work but she said rules remain the same as always.
“The township assumes responsibility for the underground, and the surface remains with the property owner,” she said.
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.