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Sutersville-Sewickley Municipal Sewage Authority mulls 3 financial options

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Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

Officials of the Sutersville-Sewickley Municipal Sewage Authority are exploring three options to improve the financial situation caused by rising rates.

Solicitor Rich Schimizzi said as the authority moves forward in order to best repay the remaining $4.2 million owed in a loan from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority, sewage can be pumped and treated three different ways.

One would be to remain in an agreement with nearby Elizabeth Township Sewage Authority, which has handled sewage since construction was begun to the 515-customer system in 2006.

ETSA anticipated four annual rate increases of 25 percent for upgrades to their system, Schimizzi said.

For 2012, base consumption rates for Sutersville customers were $63 per month plus excess consumption charges at $8 per 1,000 gallons for usage of more than 2,000 gallons.

“I don't really think we can raise rates again” for 2013, Chairman John Goodrum said during the authority board's meeting Monday.

“I think it's out of the question,” agreed member Bill Ringbloom.

The authority's second option could be to connect to the Municipal Sewage Authority of the Township of Sewickley through the Cowansburg pump station, Schimizzi said.

That option could cost more than $2 million plus the addition of a “capital contribution” fee for Sutersville customers, he said.

The third option would be to construct a treatment plant in Scott Haven operated by the Sutersville authority.

Schimizzi said construction estimates for a plant from the original plans when the system was first put in place were about $3.5 million.

The authority already owns the land where the proposed plant would be constructed, he said.

Each option is being considered to cut down long-term costs and stabilize rates for customers, Goodrum said.

Even without a change in treatment, funding is necessary, he said.

PennVEST is still waiting for audits from the Sutersville authority, after the authority asked the state agency earlier this year about grant funds.

The audits should be completed by the end of the year, Schimizzi said.

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

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