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Federal loan sought for Washington Township sewer project

| Thursday, May 9, 2013, 1:46 a.m.

The Washington Township supervisors began the process of securing federal money to pay off the $20.8-million sewer project.

The board Wednesday adopted a resolution to seek a $5,466,300 loan from the USDA Rural Utilities Service. In conjunction with the Washington Township Municipal Authority, the money will be used to pay remaining bills.

Solicitor Don McCue said the township must provide documentation to the U.S. Department of Community and Economic Development and, if the township shows it can guarantee the loan as a joint partner in the debt, the money should be available.

The municipal authority obtained an interim loan from PNC Bank to cover most project costs.

The RUS loan will be used to repay PNC Bank and any remaining obligations, McCue said.

“The municipal authority is primarily liable for the loan and the township is secondarily liable for it,” McCue said.

Unused money will be returned to RUS, said McCue, adding the authority must agree to increase fees and expenses, if necessary, to repay the loan.

“The actual authority is owned by the taxpayers of Washington Township, so (the authority) has to guarantee this money gets paid back,” Supervisor Arnold Dull said.

In the works for five years, the project is approaching completion.

Dull said approximately 400 residences – about 25 percent of approximately 1,600 affected homes – must still tap-in to the system.

Officers hired

The board hired two part-time police offers – Ryan McWreath and Stephen Olesky – at a rate of $13 per hour. The hiring comes after two officers recently left the township for full-time positions at local universities.

Dull and Miller voted to hire the pair while Supervisor Chuck Yusko abstained, because he wanted more background information and references for the officers.

Dull, a former state trooper, said it's difficult for the township to compete for part-time law enforcement while paying its current hourly wage.

“What it comes down to is money, and you can't blame them for going somewhere else that's stable and something they can live on,” Dull said. “(Part-time officers) aren't always available, because they work for other departments, and we're one of the lowest paid.”

Dull said the supervisors considered hiring another full-time officer, but didn't because of financial concerns. The township employs two full-time officers and five part-time officers.

“We're fortunate that we can have somebody for $13 an hour go out and strap a gun on and take on what's out there, because I wouldn't do it,” Dull said.

“There's West Newton paying $15 an hour, sheriff's department makes $15 an hour and we're paying $13.”

In another matter, the board received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation about repairs to the Perry Avenue bridge.

Dull said a township and a Fayette County engineers will develop a repair plan and submit it to PennDOT. Dull added the state-mandated deadline for the project is April 2014, but Miller said the sooner, the better.

“We want to address it now,” Miller said. “When PennDOT brings something to our attention, we look into it immediately.”

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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