Export officials refuse to recognize new customer fee
Export officials have refused to recognize the first month's billing of a new, $3-per-customer fee that the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority has added.
Last week, borough officials voted to not pass along the new fee to borough ratepayers for the April billing period, and they said they don't have enough time to incorporate the new fee until the June billing period.
“We were notified (by FTMSA) there were no projected increases,” Councilman John Nagoda said. “They missed the boat here.”
The sewage authority levied the equipment fee to help raise money for future replacement and repair projects.
The fee took effect April 1, after the authority's five-member board approved it in March. Authority manager Jim Brucker presented the idea in the fall as a way to avoid accumulating debt for repair and replacement projects during the next 20 years.
All of the communities served by the authority were notified by letter of the increase, Brucker said. He laughed when told that Export said they weren't notified.
“Every other community is aware and remitted it,” Brucker said. “We've been doing it for two months. Everywhere else, everything is fine.”
The authority serves about 10,000 customers in Murrysville, Delmont, Export, Monroeville, Penn Township, Plum and Salem.
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.
Brucker estimates that the fee will generate about $16 million during the next 20 years.
Unlike other communities, Export administers its own sewage bills. Sewage secretary Marlene Mahinske sends handwritten bills on pre-printed postcards to local FTMSA customers each month. Customers remit payment to the borough, and Mahinske forwards the authority's fees.
Mahinske said she didn't have ample time to order new postcards that include the rate increase.
“We had no warning,” Mahinske said. “We can't absorb this increase.”
Solicitor Wes Long suggested the borough withhold the April increase, a sum Mahinske estimated to be about $1,500. But that won't last for long.
Beginning June 1, customer bills will include the $3 increase, borough officials agreed. Long said officials did receive notice of the possibility of a fee implementation, but not of its passage.
Nagoda cited the authority's fall 2012 audit report, which stated that a rate increase would not be necessary in 2013.
“They need to be held accountable,” Nagoda said. “It's not right.”
This criticism is the latest salvo in a battle between the borough and the authority. Borough officials regularly criticize how the authority handles its money, including the implementation of an egg-shaped sewage digester. The project, which was designed to enable the authority to process more waste, was completed in 2004 but took several years to begin using.
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.