by Jonathan Weaver
Improvements to Ford City’s water treatment plant are to begin this week.
Earlier this week, Borough Council President Carol Fenyes said the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVEST) officially closed on a $3.1 million revenue note agreement August 3 to fund the borough’s new water treatment plant construction along Neale Avenue.
“They are approved by the county to begin construction any day now,” Fenyes said.
The loan includes a one percent interest rate.
Council Vice-President Tyson Klukan indicated confirmation from Armstrong County officials was in fact to be sent.
A two-week delay to the beginning of construction was expected after last month Borough Council officials had to resubmit an ordinance agreement.
In conjunction with the ordinance, council members also adopted a three-percent water rate increase at the beginning of July.
Just as former Borough Manager Eden Ratliff said previously, Fenyes said the water rate increase was a contingency of accepting the loan offer to build the new water treatment plant.
According to Klukan, effective in November, water prices will increase 90 cents over the duration of the loan payback. For example, for customers with a 5/8-inch meter, the new water bill will read a minimum of $30.90 monthly.
Comparatively, customers with a four-inch meter will now have to pay a minimum of $721.
Community leaders first heard the financing might increase local water bills in February 2013 before bids were opened.
Out of 10 contracting groups between Westmoreland County and southern West Virginia contacted to perform general and mechanical construction, bids from four companies were accepted in March for the construction – including from Kukurin Contracting, of Export (Westmoreland County), Wagner Electric – of Portersville (Butler County), Genesis Construction Group, of Mount Pleasant (Westmoreland County) and Newman Plumbing, of Harmony (Zelienople).
In May, Armstrong County Commissioners Pat Fabian and Jason Renshaw approved the contracts.
Besides the new $2 million treatment plant construction to resolve safety, treatment and regulation issues, grant funding is also to go toward restoring and painting a water storage tank, restoring an existing pump station and emergency generator and installing new water meters.
Fenyes also added what change local residents should expect first.
“You can start watching – the tower will be the first thing painted,” Fenyes said.
Water plant construction is to take about a year.