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Authority approves $8.8 million budget

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 8:17 a.m.

There will be no rate increases for customers of Ligonier Township Municipal Authority after officials balanced its budget through March 2013.

There was some question about rate increases earlier this year, when the first budget draft presented by water engineer Ben Faas showed a $166,000 deficit. Both sewage and water customers have been spared.

At the time, authority member Bill Stablein said the deficit was due to unequal splits between the authority's water and sewage departments and that the books needed to be reviewed.

When the new fiscal year started in April, President Glen Kalp said the authority would operate “month to month” this year.

That changed when the state Rural Utility Service said the authority needed to front $3.1 million for the Darlington sewer system project.

“The bank that we're using for the ($3.1 million) line of credit for Darlington required us to have a budget,” Kalp said.

The $8.8 million budget, approved unanimously Oct. 3, differs only slightly from last year's operating expenses.

But sewage income increased by $200,000 with new customers coming on with the completion of the Ligonier East sewage system expansion project. Coupled with that increase in income is an additional $160,000 budgeted for treatment expenses.

More sewage customers will be added after the Darlington project is completed next year.

Sewage engineer Mark Gera of Gibson-Thomas Engineering said the project is on schedule.

Gera said he hopes to obtain approval to start a project to expand the sewer system into Laughlintown by next month.

Faas said plans for the water expansion project in Fairfield Township has been put on hold until authority solicitor Don Snyder and the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County come to an agreement on the Ligonier authority's purchase of the Westmoreland authority's water.

Jewels Phraner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or jphraner@tribweb.com.

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