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Lawrence sewer rates to increase
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
The Lawrence Township Board of Supervisors voted to proceed with Phase III of its sanitary sewer rehabilitation project at its meeting last night; as a result, sanitary sewer rates will likely go up between $3 and $9 per month to pay for it.
The township, along with Clearfield Borough and the Clearfield Municipal Authority's are under a mandate from the state Department of Environmental Protection to remove storm water from entering its sanitary sewer system.
To accomplish this, township engineers Stiffler, McGraw & Associates of Hollidaysburg recommended the township replace approximately 10,000 linear feet of pipe that flow to the Hyde Lift Station at an approximate cost of $1.5 million, as well as 19,000 linear feet of pipe in other areas of the township at a cost of $2,925,000 or a total cost of roughly $4.5 million. In addition to the cost of installing the sewer lines, these costs include the cost of installing new manholes and laterals.
For the Hyde project, it is estimated sewer rates would increase by $3 per month; if the entire project were completed, customers' rates would go up an additional $9 per month, according to Stiffler, McGraw & Associates. These rate increases would be in addition to any rate increases the CMA imposes on its customers.
The supervisors also directed its attorneys Naddeo & Lewis of Clearfield to study the township's options of financing the project with bank loans or bonds for the project. The supervisors believe it is unlikely the township would be able to secure funding from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority because it is directing its efforts towards projects like the CMA's wastewater treatment plant replacement project.
Supervisor William Lawhead said the CMA recommended the township focus on the Hyde and Country Club areas first so the supervisors voted to direct its engineers to begin design work in that area first. Once the township gets a better idea on how it is going to finance the project, the supervisors can decide whether to proceed with the project all at once or break it into phases and do the Hyde area and the worst areas first and do the remaining work in a second project.
In other business:
• the supervisors voted 2-1 to approve its tentative 2013 budget that has $4,591,952 in revenue and $4,282,690 in general fund expenditures and $309,262 in state Liquid Fuel expenditures and includes no real estate tax increase. Supervisors Glenn Johnston and Lawhead, voted in favor, Ed Brown voted no.
According to Johnston, the 2013 budget keeps everything about the same as the 2012 budget except for the additional spending as a result of the Marcellus shale impact fees. The state recently imposed fees on Marcellus shale natural gas wells and paid the township its share of the 2012 fees $966,296.
However, midway next year, the township is expected to receive about $500,000 in impact fee revenue. Johnston said the supervisors, in deciding what to do with the impact fees looked at the $966,296 it is receiving in 2012 as a financial windfall and the $500,000 it is to receive next year as a more reasonable expectation of what the township will receive on a recurring basis.
With this in mind, for the 2012 impact fees, Johnston said the supervisors decided to spend the money as follows, $400,000 would be used so in the future the township won't have to take out a tax anticipation note. Currently, the township borrows money to pay its bills throughout the year before tax revenues start coming in.
Marcellus shale impact fees are restricted to certain areas and cannot be used for all township expenditures so it will likely take a few years before the township can get enough so it no longer needs a TAN loan.
Johnston said approximately $350,000 will be used to pay off the loans the township has on some of its fire trucks. The township has two mills of its real estate taxes set aside for fire equipment and paying off the loans would allow the township to set aside the approximately $110,000 the township receives from those two mills and use it towards future equipment purchases for the fire department, eliminating or lowering the financing costs on those purchases.
About $250,000 of the money will be used for bridge and road repair.
As for the $500,000 the township anticipates receiving next year, the township plans to spend $50,000 to hire a new chief and two additional part-time officers. The township is going to set aside $250,000 to allow the township to pay for the new officers for the next five years, in case the impact fees are not as high as expected in future years.
This way the township is assured of having the additional officers in place for at least five years whatever happens with the impact fees. However, he said if cost increases in the department continue as they have, those funds might not last the full five years.
The remaining $250,000 in 2013 money would be used for road and bridge repair. Johnston said the township is spending a significant portion of its fee revenue on roads and bridges because they have received the most impact from increased drilling operations in the area.
Supervisor Ed Brown said he voted against the budget because he is opposed to additional spending on the police department. He said it is his opinion that when the voters defeated referendum to increase real estate taxes by six mills for increased funding to the police department shows that voters are opposed to any increased spending on the police department whether it requires a tax increase or not.
Johnston said he too believes the results of the referendum show that voters are satisfied with the status quo but said he is in favor of additional spending in the police department.
The supervisors voted to:
• advertise for a new police chief and two part-time officers. Brown voted in opposition. Brown said he isn't opposed to hiring the additional police officers, but said that if the township hires a new chief from outside the department a full-time officer should be reduced to part-time.
However, the township has not yet made a decision on whether the new chief would be hired from outside the department or if it would promote from within.
Currently Sgt. Mark Brooks is serving as interim Chief until a permanent replacement is found.
• approve the CMA's Act 537 Plan that calls for a $33 million project to replace the wastewater treatment plant and some old interceptor lines.
• approve the James Gray two-lot subdivision at 196 Jones Road.
• set the public hearing date to discuss the conditional use request by CW Krause & Sons to timber off of 21st Street for Dec. 18 at 6:50 p.m.
• approve the zoning amendment to change a portion of the property owned by Gregory and Marc Martell in Hyde from residential urban to commercial highway. The township held a public hearing prior to its regular meeting to discuss the change and no one from the public objected to the zoning change.
• approve increasing the treasurer's bond on Barbara Shaffner to $2 million. The bonding has to be increased due to the increased revenue from the Marcellus Shale impact fees.
• advertise for cleaning personnel.
• advertise for bids for the TAN loan.
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