Tarentum eyes new utility billing systems with part of park grant money | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Tarentum eyes new utility billing systems with part of park grant money

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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File photo
An existing playground at Riverview Memorial Park in Tarentum. A new play area is among the park improvements that would be paid for with a $191,000 state grant. Work is expected to be done this year.

State grant money coming to Tarentum for a dog park may instead be used to update the borough’s outdated utility billing systems.

The borough is slated to receive more than $200,000 in Keystone Communities grants. The bulk of it, $191,000, would pay for several repairs, improvements and additions at Riverview Memorial Park.

A second $14,000 grant was marked for a dog park.

But council is considering using it to instead get new billing systems for the borough’s electric and water utilities, which borough Manager Michael Nestico said are old and antiquated.

The upfront cost is significant — $45,000, Nestico said. And the annual fee would be $33,000 per year over five years.

The borough’s annual cost is now about $11,200 per year, he said.

The borough did not budget for the expense. To help cover it, Nestico said he would use the grant plus money saved from other things, such as the savings expected from hiring a new auditor at a lower cost.

The new system would enable the borough to gather and analyze data the existing system cannot do, Nestico said.

“We are running a business with the electric and the water,” council President Erika Josefoski said. “We owe it to our customers to give them the best service possible.”

It would also allow the borough to make better use of its “smart” meters.

As an example, Nestico said the new system would be able to quickly detect and alert the borough to unusual water usage, such as that caused by a leak or running toilet. The borough could then alert the resident.

That could prevent residents from being hit with massive bills caused when such leaks go unnoticed for a month, officials said.

The bulk of the grant money that would be used in the park would pay for new play and swing areas, the addition of a jax pack, a new fence and gate, replacing the damaged climbing wall, building a new shelter, adding shade to the spray park, and repairs to the band shell.

The work is expected to be done this year, Josefoski said.

State Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, was instrumental in helping to get the money to the borough, Josefoski said.

“We apply for as many grants as we possibly can,” she said. “Frank really was the key in helping us to secure these grant monies.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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