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Plum authority to proceed with sewer construction

| Tuesday, March 4, 2003

PLUM: Plum Municipal Authority can proceed with construction of a sewer line to replace about 60 septic systems in the upper New Texas Road area.

The municipal authority on Wednesday completed paperwork for the $551,155 loan through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, or PennVest. The money will be used to pay for a portion of the $782,526 project.

The authority plans to contribute $112,000. The cost for each of the 60 homeowners is $9,761, authority officials said. Each resident will be required to pay a $3,900 tap-in fee up front. The remaining $5,861 will be paid through a quarterly surcharge of $108 for 20 years.

The residents, who now use septic tanks, also will begin paying sewage bills, which average $77.50 per quarter.

Construction is expected to start in the spring and be completed in the fall.

Municipal Authority board Chairman Andrew Becker said Thursday that the authority's first monthly payment on the 20-year loan, of about $2,000, is due in November. The interest rate is 2.769 percent per year through the sixth year and 3.465 percent for the rest of the loan, officials have said.

Residents have been given a reprieve until January to tap into the main sewer line while local leaders, including Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, try to find government money to reduce how much residents pay directly.

"We would be happy to receive any money," Becker said. "And we will pursue any possibility of additional funds."

Roddey said last week he has concerns that the cost of the project continues to escalate.

Becker said the authority has set aside a contingency fund to cover any cost overruns. He said if not all of the fund is used, the surcharge could end before 20 years.

Becker said he anticipates some residents will tap in before January, enabling the authority to make the initial payments on the PennVest loan.

The Allegheny County Health Department ordered nearly three years ago that the authority install sewer lines to replace septic tanks in about 60 homes and five lots after an inspection revealed that 38 percent of the septic systems were malfunctioning, according to the authority's PennVest application.

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