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Elizabeth Township man threatens lawsuit to save sanitary authority

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 4:56 a.m.

An Elizabeth Township resident has threatened to sue the municipality because of its efforts to dissolve the township's sanitary authority.

Emil Burak presented a notice of his intent to sue to township commissioners' at a meeting this week. In his notice, Burak claims “a partisan majority clique” on the board is attempting to dissolve the Elizabeth Township Sanitary Authority even though the move will cost rate payers money.

“Consider yourselves served,” Burak told township officials as he distributed his letter at the meeting. Burak said commissioners have never stated a clear reason for wanting to dissolve the authority.

Township commissioner Matt Racunas said one of the board's reasons is the authority's failure to comply with terms of a 2008 consent order issued by the state related to illegal sewage overflows that occurred at the problematic Buena Vista treatment plant.

Commissioner Claire Bryce, who along with commissioners Gene Francesoni, Larry Vota and Chris Evans supports the termination of the authority, responded.

Bryce said the authority missed a consent order deadline to connect its system with a facility operated by Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport.

“It was supposed to be done July 1,” said Bryce.

State Department of Environmental Protection officials have noted both the township authority and MACM have missed deadlines to connect their systems, which will result in the Buena Vista plant being taken offline.

Township and authority attorneys are operating under an agreement ordered by the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas to resolve sanitation issues. Under the agreement, the authority is required to “take all necessary actions to dissolve and wind up its affairs” while the township is required to assume all of the authority's debt and responsibilities on or before Oct. 24.

Authority officials claim about $7 million will be lost to refinancing costs if the township takes over all the authority's $32 million in debt.

Burak has yet to file notice with the Allegheny County Department of Court Records.

Racunas said he does not intend to formally respond to the notice.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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