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Financial outlook more rosy for SSMSA

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 9:04 p.m.

Although Sutersville-Sewickley Municipal Sewage Authority once believed money might run dry in June of this year, it should be able to weather another year financially.

“We won't have a whole lot of money left over, but we'll make it through this year,” said Chairman John Goodrum.

The fate of the Sutersville system is tied to neighboring Elizabeth Township Sewage Authority.

The Allegheny County-based authority did not raise its rates for 2013, which will allow the 515-customer system in Westmoreland County to pull through the next 12 months, said Solicitor Rich Schimizzi reporting to the board at Monday's meeting.

With those static figures in mind, the authority passed its budget for 2013, partially prepared with the help of Schimizzi and Treasurer George Hebert.

Balanced at $520,614, the budget included an estimated $432,000 from deposits and $21,786 from delinquent accounts, similar to figures from 2012, Schimizzi said.

Also included in the budget is an estimated $16,000 to pay an accounting firm for audited financial statements from 2008 to 2011.

Board members have been waiting for the audits since October when the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority required them as part of a request for assistance with $4.3 million remaining on a $6 million loan from the state agency.

Completed preliminary drafts were approved by board members at Monday's meeting.

“The most important thing about the audits is that there are no deficiencies, and we knew that all along,” Hebert said.

Schimizzi said auditors reported that the sewage authority's financial statements “conform with generally accepted accounting principles” and that all the information is “accurate, correct and complete” without any identified deficiencies, weaknesses or non-compliance.

“If the auditor was here, he would say, ‘You've got a clean bill of health,'” Schimizzi said.

Sewage board members approved the draft audits and plan to file the final reports with PennVEST as soon as possible.

With only about $238,000 left in its coffers, the authority had been anticipating a fourth year of 25 percent rate increases from the Elizabeth Township Authority.

“At this point, you're still solvent,” Schimizzi said to board members, adding that the finances will have to be revisited soon without any further relief or assistance.

The past Elizabeth Township rate increases have caused the Sutersville authority to consider other options for sewage treatment, including connecting with the neighboring Municipal Sewage Authority of the Township of Sewickley based in Herminie, or building a plant in the Sewickley Township village of Scott Haven.

In other business, the board reorganized and retained the same officer positions as 2012, including John Goodrum as chairman, John Toth as vice chairman, Bill Ringbloom as secretary and George Hebert as treasurer.

Rich Schimizzi was also retained as the board's solicitor.

Members Lisa Szczerba and Richard Bosko were absent from the meeting.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at sfederoff@tribweb.com or 724-836-6660.

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