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Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority fee 'ridiculous,' Export mayor says

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

The mayor of Export said he will fight a proposal by the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority to levy a new monthly fee on customers.

Mayor Michael Calder said he is opposed to the proposal, which authority manager Jim Brucker said would fund future equipment replacement. If approved by the authority board this spring, customers would pay an additional $3 per month.

“This fee would be a great disservice to everybody,” Calder said. “This is a ridiculous idea to offset frivolous spending.”

Export officials have criticized Brucker and the authority for the purchase of an “egg digester,” a 750,000-gallon egg-shaped sewage digester that enabled the authority to process more waste. The controversial project was completed in 2004, but it was several years before the authority was able to begin using the digester.

Calder said that project proved that Brucker and the authority can't be trusted with undertaking these types of projects.

“He blew a multimillion dollar project that has yet to really make a penny,” Calder said. “That egg digester was a joke and a waste.”

In a memo to Murrysville officials last month — the authority is chartered through the municipality — Brucker explained that the proceeds of the fee would be reserved for replacement of existing equipment only. During the next 20 years, Brucker expects the authority to need to spend $16 million on those replacements, including $4.1 million in 2013. The authority needs to replace about $3 million worth of sewer piping next year, according to authority documents.

Brucker said the authority isn't raising its base rate for 2013; it will remain at $29.27 per household, lowest in the region. The average rate is $46.11, he said.

“This asset management plan … will help prevent future borrowing and substantial rate increases in the future,” Brucker wrote.

Calder said he won't support a new fee, given the authority's track record with projects.

“I am a dollars-and-cents conservative, and I think officials should be able custodians and watchdogs for that money,” Calder said.

The authority board has not set a date for a vote on the proposed fee.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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