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Girty's Run raising rates 45 percent

| Sunday, Jan. 5, 2003

For the third time since 1998, the Girty's Run Joint Sewer Authority has hiked its rates. It's not a move that sits well with municipal officials who have to find the money to cover the costs, or pass them on to residents.

"The reasoning for this increase was never explained well or even justified," Ross Commissioner Dan DeMarco said.

The 45-percent hike, unanimously approved last week by the authority's eight-member board, affects Millvale and parts of Ross, Shaler and Reserve, all served by the Girty's Run.

Officials have said that the authority's deficit would have ballooned to $567,000 this year without the rate increase.

Rates will rise to $2.10 per 1,000 gallons from the present rate of $1.45 per 1,000 gallons, authority Manager Randy Collins said. The increased rates will take effect in March or April.

Without a rate hike, the authority faced a swelling deficit and a battle to keep its "A" bond rating. The authority's deficit has increased from about $30,000 several years ago to $253,000 this year.

Girty's Run charges a flat rate to participating municipalities, which then sets rates for residents.

Ross officials have said they doubt the township budget can absorb the increase, which eventually could mean a rate hike for Ross residents.

Girty's Run serves residents in Ross' eastern half, and the Lowries Run Sewer System covers the other side. Costs for both are spread to households throughout the township.

Ross now charges its residents $1.04 per 1,000 gallons, officials said, with the average customer paying $47 a quarter, based on a usage of 15,000 gallons. Millvale and Reserve will pass on the Girty's Run's charge as is, officials said.

So will Shaler.

"We understand that rates need to go up, but we are disappointed by the size of the rate increase," Shaler Manager Tim Rogers said. "It would have been easier to phase it in over several years."

Rates have risen sharply in the past. In 1998, it rose from 40 cents per 1,000 gallons to $1. In 1999, it rose to $1.45 per 1,000 gallons.

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