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Monroeville

Monroeville residents express concern over MS4 fee, council expects to delay vote

Dillon Carr
| Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, 11:00 a.m.
Monroeville Municipal Center
Monroeville Municipal Center

After a meeting that lasted two hours, Monroeville council members and the mayor said they will consider delaying a vote on a new fee that would fund the municipality’s aging stormwater system.

On Sept. 6, several residents voiced concerns over the municipality’s proposed Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System , or MS4, ordinance, which would implement a yearly fee ranging from $120 for residents all the way up to $223,000 for the Monroeville Mall.

As it stands, the fee schedule would collect just over $3 million a year, said Councilman Ron Harvey. That money would then be channeled into the municipality’s Pollution Control and Flood Reduction Special Revenue Fund.

Council planned to vote on finalizing the ordinance at its meeting on Sept. 11 — which occurred after the Times Express deadline — but Councilman Ron Harvey and Mayor Nick Gresock said it would be best to delay the decision.

“I think as we go through it, we’ll have more questions than answers,” Gresock said.

Council members gave vague responses to residents who sought more details.

Kay Wentling, of Monroeville, asked for a plan for controlling pollution.

“One of the components of this program is pollution control,” she said. “There’s no specifics yet about what’s going to happen. I mean, what’s the plan to control pollution?”

Harvey said it would be “crazy” to have a project list before the ordinance passes.

Harvey pointed to a provision in the ordinance that sets up a staff devoted to storm water management. He said an example of a project would be fixing the flooding at the bottom of Logans Ferry Road.

Another resident, Jay Wright, asked council how much of the $3 million would be used for updating or repairing the municipality’s aging $36 million infrastructure.

“There’s no way to tell … it’s very difficult to come up with a definitive budget right now,” Harvey said.

Jim Brown, of Monroeville, suggested council consider making the MS4 fee tax deductible.

“I’m about to get hit in the head with a hammer. I can’t stop that from happening but I would like to have a say in what that hammer looks like,” he said. Brown said council could raise property taxes or correlate the fee with the assessed value of a property.

“This is supposed to be fair and equitable,” Councilwoman Linda Gaydos said, adding that taxpayers would pay more if the fee was tax deductible because some properties are larger than others.

At one point during the meeting, Gresock said council should consider adding a sunset clause to the ordinance in order to allow members to review it every so often.

The Monroeville Interfaith Ministerium, a coalition of various religious sects, has called the fee schedule unfair to houses of worship.

Monroeville’s MS4 fee calculations were based on an MS Consultants report that found Monroeville’s five-year Pollution Reduction Plan will cost $37.7 million, or $7.5 million per year. The PRP is only one part of the multifaceted MS4 program, which includes reducing the municipality’s 801,302 pounds of sediment per year at $47 per pound by using bioswales, retention ponds, permeable pavement, street sweeping, stream restoration and forested buffers.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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