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Sewage rates increase for some Ligonier Township customers

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Sewage-only customers in Ligonier Township will pay an average of $11 more a month due to rate increases from the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

For customers who are not on the Ligonier Township Municipal Authority's water systems, the authority depends on the Westmoreland entity to track how much water is being used by residents.

At their Feb. 6 meeting, Ligonier authority members voted to pass on the increase in Westmoreland rates to those customers.

"I hate to do it, but it's being passed onto us, and we have to do it," board member John Beaufort said."I don't think we have any choice in the matter," added chairman Glen Kalp.

The average sewage bill in Ligonier Township last year totaled $50. With the rate increase, the average bill will reach $61, according to Kalp.

Authority members also set a $150 yearly fee for property owners who install sprinkler systems in their homes or businesses.

Property owners will be responsible for maintaining the systems and providing annual inspection reports to the authority each year.

Local authorities often charge additional fees for sprinkler systems, said Tom Ceraso, assistant manager for the Westmoreland Authority.

"We don't have a specific fee for fire protection, but our rules and regulations create a situation where, by default, (customers who have sprinkler systems in their homes or businesses) pay more than somebody who just has regular service," Ceraso said.

He said Westmoreland authority homeowners pay a one-time fee of $150, plus an additional $40 a year and the cost of any water used. Business owners pay about $320 annually for the additional line that services a sprinkler system.

In another issue, solicitor Dan Huddock said hearings before District Judge Denise Snyder Thiel will begin in March for residents who have refused to pay the $1,500 tap-in fee or connect their properties to the sewage line installed last year along Route 30.

Ligonier Township supervisors approved an ordinance in 2011 requiring residents who live within 150 feet of the line to pay the fee and foot the cost of installing pipes linking buildings to the authority's main sewage line.

Residents could be charged as much as $1,000 per day for a violation, according to the ordinance approved one year ago. In addition, the authority can opt to install the connecting line using its own labor and materials.

The cost, plus an additional 10 percent, would be covered by the homeowner.

Solicitor Don Snyder previously said the authority will also seek reimbursement for any court costs.

Engineer Mark Gera reported that work continues on the $10 million Darlington sewage project, which includes providing a public sewage line to serve about 340 homes now using septic tanks or leach fields for sewage disposal.

Gera said the sewage treatment plant west of Longbridge on Route 30 is almost complete and is set to come online in June.

Work will begin within a few months to expand the sewage system along Route 30 into Laughlintown.