Penn Hills residents to see small reduction in quarterly sewage bill |
Penn Hills

Penn Hills residents to see small reduction in quarterly sewage bill

Dillon Carr
Penn Hills road crews battle the freezing temperatures in this January 2017 photo as they repair a water main break on Saltsburg Road.

Penn Hills residents will save some money on their quarterly sewage service fee after the municipality decreased the bill by $5.

The municipality recently decided to reduce its sewage service fee from $30 to $25, which is billed quarterly. The savings amounts to $20 a year per ratepayer.

Manager Scott Andrejchak said there are around 17,377 residential sewage customers. He said the decrease amounts to nearly $350,000 per year not being collected by the municipality.

But that doesn’t mean the municipality’s sewer system will suffer or fall behind in maintenance or repair work, Andrejchak said.

“(Service fees) were bringing in more money that was actually being spent. This was a recognition that we could do two things at one time. This was about bringing relief to the ratepayer, it’s not a situation where we have to cut something else to make up for the loss,” he said.

The service fee increased from $15 to $30 per quarter in 2017, according to the municipality’s latest budget. Before the increase, Penn Hills’ sewage fund balance sat around $700,000. By the end of 2018, Andrejchak said the fund balance was $4.6 million.

The service fee pays for future and ongoing improvements to the sewage system, Andrejchak said.

The service fee is only one component to residents’ sewage bills.

Residential sewage rates ranged from $11 to $13 per 1,000 gallons used from 2010 to 2016. In 2017, the municipality’s rate jumped to $17.88 and now sits at $19.37. Those rates do not include Allegheny County Sanitary Authority’s yearly increases. That fee currently sits at $9.52 per 1,000 gallons used. In 2010, that number was $4.68. Penn Hills officials have no control over the rates charged by Alcosan.

According to Alcosan, the average customer uses approximately 13,000 gallons of water per quarter.

Officials have said Penn Hills’ rate increases were necessary after being mandated in the 1990s by the Environmental Protection Agency to pay for $100 million in repairs to its system, which includes 244 miles of sewage pipes, 12 pumping stations, seven equalization stations and two sewage treatment plants.

The mandate came after the municipality was cited for dumping raw sewage into the Allegheny River.

So far, Penn Hills has paid $36 million in repairs to its system, Councilman John Petrucci said.

“It’s down to $64 million – that’s how much we owe on the debt. In 2034, that’ll be paid off,” he said.

Petrucci said he was behind the municipality’s decision to decrease the service fee to $25 per quarter after requesting an “analysis of the sewage system in Penn Hills.”

The councilman, who is also running for mayor, hopes to hold a town hall meeting in the near future to discuss the sewage issue with residents but has not determined a date.

Penn Hills residents receive water and sewage bills from either Oakmont Water Authority or Penn Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority.

Oakmont Water Authority office manager Carrie Clark said the $5 reduction will appear on customers’ bills due by May 18.

The Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority did not respond to a request for comment, but Andrejchak said he is hopeful the authority will make the change to bills soon.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Penn Hills
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.