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Duquesne moves forward with 'hosting fee' plans

By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Thursday, May 15, 2014, 3:51 a.m.
 

Duquesne officials are moving forward with plans to charge the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport for services provided at the city's treatment plant.

During Wednesday's meeting, council authorized Solicitor Patricia McGrail to draft a “hosting fee” ordinance.

The motion followed months of discussion comparing Duquesne's services to those offered by McKeesport, which charges the authority $1 million annually as part of an intergovernmental cooperation agreement for public safety, public works and equipment sharing. Duquesne made its plans for a $500,000 host fee public in March, and city officials have been in communication with the authority through conversation and formal letters.

“We provide the same services that the other city does,” Duquesne Mayor Phil Krivacek said of McKeesport. “If they're eligible to receive funds, so are we. I understand that they are a larger city, but we do all of the same things.”

Duquesne signed its sewage treatment plant, located under the Thompson Run Bridge where Route 837 intersects with North Duquesne Avenue, over to the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport in November 2010. Along with funds brought in by that sale, Duquesne officials said their city deserves to be compensated for its police, fire, code enforcement and administrative services associated with the treatment facility's location.

When McKeesport imposed its fee on the municipal authority in 2012, it was established as an intergovernmental cooperation agreement that included shared equipment and infrastructure improvement costs.

Led by North Versailles Township officials, some municipalities served by the authority took issue with it and threatened the pursuit of legal action, assuming the fee would cause sewage rates to increase.

In March, McGrail said she believed the root of those complaints was in the perception that McKeesport's fee is inflated.

“In this particular case, I think we've reasonably related the amount of the fee to the services provided,” McGrail said. “I think other municipalities have (taken issue) with the $1 million amount of McKeesport's host fee.”

Following Tuesday's authorization to prepare an ordinance, McGrail did not confirm a finalized amount that Duquesne will seek. A draft could appear on council's agenda in June.

“I'm going to look at other host fee ordinances and council will review them and make a recommendation in terms of advertising,” McGrail said.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or jvertullo@tribweb.com.

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