Harford to raise sewer rates

BY PAT FARNELLI

Harford Township will have to raise sewer rates to cover the costs of its sewer upgrade, it was decided Tuesday, July 10, during the supervisors meeting.

Last month, the supervisors agreed to an ordinance that will allow them to  borrow $150,000 for the new sewer plant, including the ultraviolet light disinfection system that was debated at the last meeting. Supervisor Doug Phelps discussed the ultraviolet system last month with engineer David Klepadlo, who recommended including this phase along with the other improvements at this time.

A special meeting on the sewer project was held on June 28. A commitment letter for a loan of $150,000 from Peoples Neighborhood Bank was presented. The terms are 15 years with an interest rate of three percent for the first three years. On the anniversary date in years 3, 6, 9 and 12, the rate will change to 68 percent of the national prime rate, with a cap of 4.

At last month’s meeting, Supervisor Garry Foltz was concerned that the budget was showing a negative balance for this year as well as last year. After discussion, Phelps made a motion to borrow this amount from People’s National Bank for a 15 year term at three percent fixed for three years, then adjusting to 68 percent of prime every three years, with a floor of three percent and a cap of 4.75 percent. A motion to move forward on the loan was made by Phelps, seconded by Supervisor Sue Furney, with Foltz voting no.

Ordinance #45 declaring that the execution by the township of notes between the township and bank will deliver a note in the amount not to exceed $150,000 to finance repairs to the sewage collection and treatment system; also, another note in the amount of $647,072 to finance the refunding of an existing loan to the bank. The ordinance has been duly advertised. The ordinance passed with three yes votes.

The borrowing base certificate for $797,000 was adopted with three yes votes, and a motion to pass the debt statement was carried by three yes votes

Resident Maureen Warren asked how much the township is in arrears on past due sewer accounts. She was told by Furney that there are $5,000 of past due sewer bills that are in liens, and a total of $7,500 to 8,000 in arrears.

Those accounts are accruing about $400 per year in fees and interest. Foltz said, “We have to get close to 100 percent collection on the sewer accounts, or we aren’t going to be paying those bills.”

Furney said that some of the old accounts have been paid, and that payment has begun to come in from the new billing. The past due accounts will be seriously looked over, said Foltz.

She said that she has been notifying some of the same clients for years.

One resident whose lines have caused serious blockages to sewer pipes several times has paid his bill. Excessive baby wipes have been clogging the grinder pumps and messing up the system, and residents are reminded that baby wipes are not flushable.

Also, six E1 pumps for the sewer plant need to be ordered, which Foltz said ran about $1400 a piece the last time he checked prices.

Sewer rates have remained the same for 12 years, “which is dead wrong,” said Foltz.

A small piece of land that belongs to theRutherfordsis being transferred to the treatment plant plot for the Water Association. A letter is needed stating that the existing driveway is satisfactory. The supervisors approved writing such a letter.

In other business, problems with wide load trailers travelling township roads were discussed. Some are transporting gas industry equipment, some modular homes, and some are moving parts for windmills. One tractor trailer bearing a windmill assembly knocked a large tree into a home in Harford and did some major damage, supervisors said. The road report was brief, as roadmaster Eric Allen could not attend. The road crew is working the heavily traveled roads back to the ditches, crowning and widening the roads with heaviest travel. Jim Phelps has  been working part time for the road crew, and may be able to work full time.

Harford Township Supervisors meet on the second Tuesday of the month at7 p.m.