Latrobe authority proceeds with sewage rate hikes
Latrobe Municipal Authority sewer customers will see an increase in their bills this fall as the authority moves forward with planned rate revisions that were put on hold by a legal dispute with the Unity Township Municipal Authority.
According to information posted on the authority website, the billing changes include addition of a monthly administration and operations fee of $6.50 and an increase in the sewage usage rate from $2.30 per thousand gallons to $2.50 per thousand gallons.
The latter hike has been scaled back from an original proposal of $2.75 per thousand gallons. Also, customers will pay for their actual sewage usage, as the authority is eliminating a minimum quarterly usage charge for 15,000 gallons.
Originally slated to take effect in July 2017, the new fee structure is tied to a $10 million bond issue for state-approved storm water management improvements meant to help prevent raw sewage from bypassing the Latrobe authority’s treatment plant during heavy rains.
Those improvements “will continue to place a financial burden on the Latrobe Municipal Authority as these projects progress. Fiscal prudence will continue to be exercised to the extent possible in order to minimize future increases,” the authority post stated.
In addition, the monthly lateral sewer fee is increasing from$1.50 to $2.
Latrobe Municipal Authority’s new rate structure was placed on hold when the Unity Township Municipal Authority filed a legal challenge in Westmoreland County — joined by additional plaintiffs Unity Township and Youngstown Borough, neighboring areas that send some sewage to the Latrobe plant.
According to the Latrobe authority, that litigation has now been resolved.
Romel Nicholas, solicitor for the Unity authority, said attorneys for the various parties have been authorized to draft wording to settle the matter, governed by a consent order and agreement.
The Latrobe and Unity authorities “have a pretty good understanding of what the final agreement is going to be,” said Doug Pike, operations manager for the Unity authority. “I don’t anticipate there being any issues with that.”
According to President Sharon Repko, Youngstown Borough Council has yet to take action on the matter.
Pike confirmed that the Unity authority expects to pay the newly announced Latrobe rates for Unity authority sewer customers that are served by the Latrobe authority — a $6.50 administrative fee and $2.50 usage fee per thousand gallons.
While the Unity authority will be billed at the new, increased rates, it has no immediate plans to pass on the hikes to its customers, Pike said.
“At this point, we have money to cover that portion of the bill,” he said. He noted Unity authority rates were increased several years ago to meet its share of the anticipated storm water management project costs.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .