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Cost soars for planned Pleasant Hills Authority treatment facility

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Baldwin Borough officials want answers from the local sewer authority as to why the price of a planned treatment facility skyrocketed, they said.

Baldwin Borough Council members on Tuesday night said they initially were told the price of a proposed South Park Township sewage treatment facility in the Pleasant Hills Authority sewage system would be between $11.6 and $14 million — cost estimates coming from two engineering firms, one conducting an independent peer-review of the project.

Now, the projected cost has risen to $23.3 million.

And it will be up to the residents of Baldwin, Pleasant Hills, South Park Township and Whitehall, which contribute to the Pleasant Hills Authority, to make up for the cost.

The average Baldwin Borough resident likely would pay as much as $144 more per year than they do now with the treatment facility upgrades and the construction of a proposed pump station in Colewood Park, Baldwin Borough council President Michael Stelmasczyk said.

“That's unacceptable,” he said. “That makes no sense.”

The construction of the plant is part of a consent decree, as the four municipalities are working to comply with the state Department of Environmental Protection's consent decree to reduce overflow issues, Baldwin officials said.

Baldwin Borough leaders on Tuesday said they plan to ask for a meeting with leaders of the Pleasant Hills Authority to find out where the cost increase is coming from.

Pleasant Hills Borough Council members agreed on Monday night to send a letter to the authority asking for answers, said Baldwin engineer Larry Souleret, whose firm, Lennon, Smith & Souleret also serve's as Pleasant Hills' engineering firm.

“Ask them to tell you why,” Souleret said.

The only addition to the plans that were initially presented to the communities is flow monitors, estimated to cost $1 million, Souleret said.

Each contributory community and their planning commission is required as part of the consent decree to improve the plan.

Baldwin officials said they want answers before they will vote to accept the plan.

Pleasant Hills Authority will float a bond for the treatment facility upgrades, but the communities will have to back it, Stelmasczyk said.

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