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West View sewer prices set to run high

 

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By Brian C. Rittmeyer
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, March 15, 2007

West View sewage customers will see their bills rise sharply as the result of the borough losing a legal battle with the Girty's Run Joint Sewer Authority.

Increased charges from Alcosan will only add to the burden.

Borough officials said they were forced to raise rates to pay for a 30-year, $7.2 million bond, money that went to Girty's Run.

A court ruling found West View responsible for 25 percent of the cost to build two holding tanks intended to prevent sewage overflows on a 30-inch trunk line that carries sewage from West View and Girty's Run customers to Alcosan. It was upheld when the state Supreme Court in September refused to hear West View's appeal.


"We fought this for nine years. We just couldn't go any further," borough council President Dan Daugherty said. "We have no other alternative here. It's something we didn't want to do, but the law's the law."

Retroactive to Jan. 1, the quarterly customer service charge will increase from $9.93 to $22.04. The rate per thousand gallons, based on water usage, will increase from 81 cents to $2.82.

In addition, Alcosan increased its charges -- the bill charge increasing from $5.78 to $6.27 and the per-thousand-gallon charge increasing from $2.75 to $2.98 per quarter.

The average residential customer in West View uses between 15,000 and 18,000 gallons of water per quarter. Based on a usage of 18,000 gallons, the total bill will increase from $79.79 to $132.71, an increase of about 66 percent.

The borough has about 3,000 sewage customers.

For Girty's Run, the influx of cash will help keep the authority solvent and possibly hold off a rate increase to pay for mandated repairs, said Bill Youngblood, executive director of the McCandless Township Sanitary Authority, which temporarily has been managing the Girty's Run sewer system.

Girty's Run was 18 to 24 months away from exhausting its reserves to pay for repairs to its system, Youngblood said. Over four years, the authority's reserves had decreased from $3.5 million to $1.2 million.

Youngblood said Girty's Run has inspected about half of its system, finding about $1 million worth of needed repairs. The authority has about $13 million in debt.

Girty's Run serves Ross, Shaler, Millvale and Reserve. A task force of officials from those communities recently met for the first time to discuss restructuring Girty's Run.

"They're on a good footing. The communities are coming together to make whatever changes that would be beneficial to the continued operation of the authority," Youngblood said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer can be reached at brittmeyer@tribweb.com or (724) 779-7108.

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