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Uniontown improves Redstone interceptor sewer project

| Thursday, March 7, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Uniontown City Council took additional steps on Wednesday in its $1.5 million improvement to the Redstone Interceptor Upgrade Project that calls for the replacement of an 80-year-old main sewer line feeding the plant that provides sewer service to residents in the city and South Union and North Union townships.

City council voted unanimously to adopt a debt ordinance to secure a guaranteed sewer revenue note with the principal amount not to exceed $500,000 over a 20-year period.

Council also agreed to award the contract to the low bidder, Inland Water Pollution Control, in the amount of $1.79 million along with a change order to reduce the scope of the project by $547,000.

Last month, city council hired Lisa Chiesa, an attorney for the Thorp, Reed & Armstrong law firm in Pittsburgh, to prepare the loan settlement documents with PennVEST, which is loaning $500,000 to the city at a low interest rate for the next 20 years.

The city recently secured a $1 million grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development for the project through its H20 program, which funds sewer and water projects, according to John Over of K2 Engineering, the city's engineering firm.

“This price is really good,” said Phil Mahoney, director of the city's public works. “The two other bids were $5 million and $7 million.”

The grant requires a 50 percent match or $500,000, Over said. Uniontown's share is estimated at $266,000, and South Union and North Union townships will split the remaining cost. The three municipalities have an agreement that outlines how the cost of improvements is shared.

Chiesa, who attended the meeting, told city council members and Mayor Ed Fike that the city will pay a 1 percent interest rate for the first five years of the loan. During the remaining 15 years, she said the interest rate will increase to 1.868 percent.

“This is an excellent interest rate,” Chiesa said, explaining that the loan closing is expected to take place at the end of April.

Councilman Gary Gearing questioned Chiesa about the loan terms.

“I haven't had a lot of time to review the debt ordinance,” Gearing said. “But I did notice that the term of the note is 276 months, which is over 20 years.”

Chiesa explained that the note includes an additional three years while the project is under construction. The city is not required to begin paying back the loan until the project has been completed, she said.

Over said the city will also be required to secure $650,000 to $750,000 from a lending institution that will provide a line of credit to be used to finance the project during the construction phase.

“You have to spend the $1 million in H20 grant funding before the city will actually receive the money,” Over said. “Then you can submit to DCED for the reimbursement. You can get a $1 million revolving loan.”

Over said the H20 money must be spent by June 30, 2014.

In other business, council:

• Adopted the speed hump request policies and procedures submitted by Over to resolve controversial issues that began several months ago when a group of Oakland Avenue residents requested speed humps and others opposed them.

• Agreed to hire Delbert DeWitt as a full-time police officer at a salary of $19.43 an hour after he successfully completed his 16-month probationary period, effective Feb. 24.

• Agreed to allow PennDOT to acquire a tract of land from the city in the amount of $7,300 to allow access to replace a bridge on Route 51.

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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