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Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority raises sewer fee by $3

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A 10-percent increase in local sewage bills will fund equipment repairs for nearly 20 years.

The Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority approved a $3-per-bill rate increase last month, which took effect April 1. Authority manager Jim Brucker said the fee, which is expected to raise about $16 million during the next 20 years, will pay for equipment upgrades and replacements that are scheduled through 2033.

“Let's call this a Christmas club,” Brucker said. “Basically, all we're doing is putting money away up front to purchase equipment in the future.”

Brucker first presented the idea to the FTMSA board in the fall. He said that the fee should prevent the authority from issuing bonds for scheduled replacement projects.

The authority issued $5 million in bonds in late 2011 to pay for 2012 and 2013 upgrades. This year, Brucker said, about $4.5 million of work will be completed. There was no rate increase in 2011, but a $1 increase was levied in 2010, Brucker said.

“In the past, we would wait until (the money) ran out and take out a great big bond issue at a great big (interest) rate,” Brucker said. “This one increase should cover all future increases. We can just go to that account and write a check.”

The authority serves about 10,000 customers in seven municipalities in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties — Murrysville, Delmont, Export, Monroeville, Penn Township, Plum and Salem Township.

Each community has a different sewage rate, based on size and services. After the increase, they range from $32.27 per month in Murrysville and Penn Township to about $41 per month in Delmont.

Murrysville Chief Administer Jim Morrison said that the municipality has been fielding calls from angry residents about the increase. While the authority is chartered through the municipality, Murrysville officials have no say on rates.

Brucker said he has received calls from about a half dozen customers regarding the increase.

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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