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Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority to seek $3 fee

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By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
 

Local sewer bills might be going up by about 10 percent this spring.

Jim Brucker, the manager of the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority, said he plans to recommend instituting a $3 per-month fee to sewage bills in Murrysville, Export, Delmont, Salem, Penn Township, Plum and Monroeville as early as this spring.

The new fee would fund an asset-management plan that to enable the authority to replace equipment without obtaining large loans.

“Every part has a pricetag,” Brucker said. “Every part has a life(span). A building may be good for 50 years, a pump for 20 years. When these things come due, you have to replace them.”

The authority, which serves about 10,000 customers in seven municipalities in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, took out a $5 million bond in late 2011 for upgrades. There was no rate increase at that time, Brucker said, but customers did have a $1 rate increase in 2010.

The fee must be approved by the authority's board of directors. Brucker said he will discuss the idea with board members this spring.

Each community has a different sewage rate, based on size and services. Some communities add an extra fee onto the authority's rate. Local rates range from $29.27 per month in Murrysville and Penn Township to about $38 per month in Delmont.

If approved, the fee would generate between $400,000 and $450,000 annually, Brucker said. He hopes the plan would enable the authority to avoid large, regular rate increases in the future.

“What we're trying to do here is not go into any more debt but to set a fund aside for the replacement of this equipment,” Brucker said. “It's just like when you do a budget at home. You put money into a savings account because you know your furnace is going to blow and when you get to $10,000 you replace it.”

Ron Summerhill, Murrysville Council's liaison to the authority, said the idea is a good concept, but he doesn't necessarily like the idea of instituting another fee.

“The concept makes good business sense,” Summerhill said. “My concern is for the impact it would have on our residents. We'll have to see where it goes.”

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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