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Ford City must determine solution to pay off $21,000 in water supply fines

| Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 12:41 a.m.

It has been three weeks since Ford City Council voted to move ahead and build a water plant — but it still must resolve how to pay fines levied against the borough by the Department of Environmental Protection because of project delays.

The borough is continuing to amass $250 in daily fines for missing DEP deadlines and must pay $21,000 in penalties by today.

But that's not going to happen until a meeting is arranged between officials from DEP and Ford City to discuss the matter.

Council has not received word from DEP confirming if last month's vote to build a water plant has put a stop to the $250 additional daily fines, which began on March 4 because of council's delay in providing DEP with a decision about its water source option.

DEP had required council to explore options of building a water facility or contracting with Pennsylvania-American Water.

An earlier option of contracting with Manor Township was taken off the table by the DEP because Manor doesn't have the capacity to support Ford City.

During Monday's meeting, Councilman Gene Banks asked Borough Engineer Jim Garvin: “What can we do to stop the bleeding?”

The fines are due on the 15th of the month, Councilman Jerry Miklos said, and asked if Garvin planned to pay them.

“I said I'd pay past fines,” Garvin said.

He noted that the $21,000 debt was the result of council postponing a decision beyond DEP's required deadline.

“There was no way I could file permits until the decision was made by council (after a March 24 public forum),” he said.

He said that it was good of council to hold the meeting and inform the public but that he shouldn't be held responsible for the fines that resulted from council delaying its decision.

Garvin, who took responsibility for past permit delays, has paid two previous DEP fines totaling $7,250.

According to Garvin, there has been a lack of communication on the part of DEP officials. He said he never received any notification from DEP that contracting with Manor was no longer a viable option.

“We didn't get numbers from Pennsylvania-American Water till very late in the game,” he said.

Garvin told council he plans to set up a meeting with DEP officials, council members, the borough solicitor and with state Rep. Jeff Pyle, R-Ford City, to discuss the growing debt.

“I don't think they are fair assessments,” he said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

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