by Jonathan Weaver
Sewage customers treated by the Fox Hollow sewage plant in East Franklin Township will be paying $10 more per month soon.
The action was East Franklin Township supervisors’ final action of the evening before adjournment and came after a meeting filled with financial discussion about the sewage system’s future.
The motion was made by Supervisor David Stewart – also the township’s full-time operator – and seconded by Chair Barry Peters.
Earlier in the discussion, Stewart argued for holding customer rates at the Adrian, Tarrtown and Cowansville plants.
“I don’t have a problem raising Fox Hollow $5,10,15 – I think Fox Hollow should be the same as everyone else since we’re all under the East Franklin (system),” Stewart said. “But, Id really hate to raise up Cowansville/Adrian/Tarrtown – the people that are paying $56 a month,” Stewart said. “The whole reason we got that grant money was because (Fox Hollow) is a low-income area, and now we (would’ve been) nailing them with $56.”
The 10 Fox Hollow customers were previously paying $35 per month and are billed every other month for municipal service.
Both Stewart and local residents argued for small raises for all customers to enable necessary repairs. Stewart said the Fox Hollow plant’s clutch is worn and would eventually need replaced, adding its service blowers are on around-the-clock and he isn’t sure how old they are.
Bankson Engineers Engineer Ken Howard also told supervisors of a problem with a proposed project to create a gravity sewer along Crissman Road, a pressure sewer along Route 4006 and pressure systems along Bear Road and Ridge Road in Cowansville.
Howard prepared an Act 537 report on the synopsis of the project as a whole for public advertisement, but added a timetable must be included.
A nearly $879,000 H20PA grant received last summer but must be utilized by June or the money runs out and puts the project – or phases of it – in danger.
“We made the request – we’re talking about this – so we’re looking at the four areas we’re proposing to put sewage extensions into and trying to identify which portion of this project could we build the quickest,; how fast can we get a portion of this job under (construction)?,” Howard said.
Howard recommended supervisors publish the report and ‘quickly’ try to field bids and find a contractor for the Crissman Road project – which would affect 10 customers.
Since the job is so small and has fewer than 250 customers, supervisors will not need an extra Department of Environmental Protection permit or ones from the Armstrong Conservation District.
The Crissman Road extensions would cost nearly $512,000, with $346,000 of that going toward construction. The grant would pay 2/3rds of that cost, or more than $340,000, with supervisors paying for the remainder through any excess revenue
Howard advised supervisors to apply for an extension to the grant, even though it may not be available.
“It’s not just a given you’re going to have an extra year,” Howard said. “It’s a big project for a few customers – you definitely have some needs though.”
The grant funds could be ‘returned’ or supervisors could utilize some of their $470,000 in budgetary reserve or Act 13 Marcellus Shale funds. 2012 Community Development Block Grant funds were already designated, but could be used in any of the future phases.
“We’ll start down this road and just see how it goes,” Howard said.
All four ‘phases’ are to cost approximately $1.16 million and affect 23 customers.
During their sewage discussions, supervisors also agreed to arrange all billing in-house rather than utilizing the Kittanning Suburban Joint Water Authority because of cost and also questioned if Stewart would work less than full-time hours.
“I wouldn’t have a problem cutting my hours,” Stewart said, before he said the workload is too much to regularly stay closer to 35 hours per week due to weekend problems.
Stewart added he has not worked 40 hours since July 4, but the extra hours come since he can not take vacation-time.
Auditors gave Stewart a 20 percent raise earlier this month – up to $19.30 per hour – since he is the only full-time working supervisor.
Comparatively, Manor Township uses their full-time working supervisor for Road Foreman/Supervisor Chair Jim McGinnis, but East Franklin hired an outside-full-time road foreman.