Allegheny Township officials have had enough of Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority’s inaction in collecting delinquent sewage bills.
The supervisors last week voted to hire attorney Leslie J. Mlakar to represent the township in a legal action against the authority. Mlakar will be paid a $1,500 retainer and an hourly rate of $170.
“We are going to take action against the Kiski Valley Water Pollution Control Authority because of the billing issue,” township Supervisor Joseph Ferguson said.
Authority Solicitor Larry Loperfito said, because of the timing, the authority’s board hasn’t had a chance to discuss Allegheny Township’s issues concerning delinquent accounts.
“The board will discuss and respond in the upcoming months,” Loperfito said.
He declined to go into detail about what he said has been a long-standing issue. “It’s my policy not to comment on threatened litigation,” he said.
Allegheny Township supervisors’ unanimous vote to retain Mlakar of the Avolio Law Group LLC, fulfills a sentiment expressed last December by township supervisors’ Chairwoman Kathy Starr.
During a discussion of the matter then, Starr said she would be willing to consider legal action to put pressure on the authority, or its fellow authority member communities, to go after unpaid sewage bills.
Ferguson, who sits on the township’s own sewage authority, said the delinquencies from 10 of the 13 member communities totaled about $170,000, based on information provided to the township by Bob Polczynski, its representative to the Kiski Valley authority, which operates the overall sewage collection system and the treatment plant in Hyde Park.
The issue revolves around how billing is handled by the communities.
Allegheny, Parks and Gilpin townships each do their own billing for sewage service and pay the authority what the township owes each quarter. The other 10 authority member communities prefer to let the authority do it.
Ferguson said Allegheny, Parks and Gilpin all actively pursue their residents who have not paid their sewage bills to collect the money owed. He said the result is few or no outstanding delinquencies from those communities.
Ferguson said the authority does not go after delinquencies from the other communities, which amounts to lost revenue.
The authority “has been carrying all these municipalities’ debt,” Ferguson said. “We are going to go after them. We are going to sue.”
Pointing to a recent $1 increase in sewage rates, he questions if it was necessary given how much money the authority could bring in by going after the delinquents.
Ferguson and Township Manager Greg Primm said Polczynski has constantly brought the matter before the authority at its regular meetings to no avail.
“Bob has really been representing us well even though he’s getting the cold shoulder from some of his fellow board members,” Primm said.
Gilpin Supervisor Chairman Charles Stull said supervisors supported an Allegheny Township letter to the authority demanding action, but supervisors will have a separate vote to decide if they will take part in the litigation.
Parks officials also are not happy.
“We’re doing what we’re supposed to do. I don’t think we should be penalized,” said Parks Supervisor Franklin L. “Bud” Shannon.