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Rate hike likely needed to pay for WWMA work, Penn commissioners told

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Western Westmoreland Municipal Authority board likely will have to approve incremental rate increases to help pay for a state-mandated $56-million project, the board's vice president told Penn Township commissioners Monday.

Though the authority's directors have not finalized the potential increases, WWMA Vice President Chuck Konkus estimated the charges could add $5 to $10 per month to the base sewage charge.

“That (project) price tag's not going to go anywhere,” Konkus said. “We're going to have to find a way to pay for it one way or another.”

The state Department of Environmental Protection is requiring the authority to upgrade equipment at the Brush Creek Plant in North Huntingdon to eliminate the discharges of untreated wastewater during heavy rains.

Those who are served by the Brush Creek plant pay a base fee of $25.35 per month. The plant's service area includes about 4,800 homes in Penn Township and 1,300 homes in Manor.

The authority has until November to complete designs for the replacement of most of the sewage lines that feed into the Brush Creek plant and the construction of a new sewage storage tank.

Konkus also told township commissioners that the authority board is continuing negotiations with the authority's union members, whose contract expired in October 2011. He said authority officials are “holding firm, but fair” with the employees, who are working under the provisions of the last contract.

“The way I look at it right now, we're in a pay freeze,” Konkus said.

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or cforeman@tribweb.com.

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