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Sutersville-Sewickley sewer authority expects to make it through 2013 budget

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Although Sutersville-Sewickley Municipal Sewage Authority once thought money might run dry in June, 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,” Chairman John Goodrum said.

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 to pull through the next 12 months, solicitor Rich Schimizzi told the board this week.

With those static figures in mind, the authority board passed its budget for 2013, 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 2012 figures, Schimizzi said.

An estimated $16,000 is budgeted 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 agency.

The board approved completed preliminary drafts 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” with no identified deficiencies, weaknesses or non-compliance.

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

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

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

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 retained as the board's solicitor by the board.

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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