By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Mt. Oliver looks to raise sewage rates by second quarter


January 26, 2010

Mount Oliver residents will likely be paying more for sewage shortly, as council voted at its Jan. 18 meeting to advertise an ordinance raising the sewage rate from $5 per 1,000 gallons of water to $7.85 per 1,000 gallons of water.

The increase will be voted on at council's Feb. 15 meeting. It would go into effect during the first or second quarter.

The rate increase was necessary, said Council President James Cassidy, to help fund sanitary sewer work mandated by a federal consent decree of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Mount Oliver is one of 83 communities within the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) service area under an EPA mandate to repair broken sewer lines, eliminate sanitary sewer overflows, and more.

The cost of the major work in the borough is $1.5 million. Financing is from a low-interest loan and a grant from Penn-Vest, the Pa. Infrastructure Investment Authority.

While the majority of Mount Oliver's major issues will be taken care of this year, said Mr. Cassidy, municipalities are required by the decree to continually monitor and correct problems.

Contibuting to the borough rate increase was the 16 percent rate hike that ALCOSAN put into effect on Jan. 1, 2009. ALCOSAN attributed the hike to the cost of complying with the consent decree to address sewer overflows and rising commodity costs.

ALCOSAN will be holding public informational meetings on the consent decree, sewer overflows, and other issues on Jan. 26 and on Feb. 3. The Jan. 26 meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at Crowne Plaza, Pittsburgh South, 164 Fort Couch Rd., Bethel Park.

The Feb. 3 meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the IBEW Hall, 5 Hot Metal St., South Side.

Mr. Cassidy said the $270,000 owed to the borough in delinquent sewer bills will be pursued "aggressively."

Councilwoman Billie Michener said she was surprised that the delinquent amount was so high. She suggested that perhaps council should look into another service besides Jordan Tax Service, which currently handles delinquents.

Mr. Cassidy said those with delinquent sewage accounts had better call the borough to make payment plans, or are risking having their water shut off in April. Water can be legally shut off between April and October.

Mayor Jeff Repasky said property can be liened for delinquent sewage accounts.

Mrs. Michener said no one wants to turn off water. But delinquents are making rates increase for those who do pay their bills.

Solicitor James Perich said if the borough shuts off water, the water company will charge the borough a minimum charge each month on the affected properties. "So do it selectively," he said.

The meeting began with Mr. Repasky presenting a proclamation to borough residents Don and Janice Baumgart for operating Don's Bar, at Hays Ave. and Margaret St., for 50 years.

During the public comment, resident Jason Kottler asked if a "green" solution to paving Williams St. was possible.

Engineer Justin Wagner said putting grass between the paving stones would cost more.

He has only seen the procedure in parking areas. It would "take a beating," he said, on roads as trucks would be hard on it.

Councilman Dennis Obeldobel said it would also lead to more potholes.

Mr. Cassidy said with such a procedure, the salt would kill the grass every year and have to be replanted. There would also be the added expense of the upkeep and cutting of the grass. He said it would not be feasible in our climate.

In the mayor's report, Mr. Repasky said he received two complaints of dog owners not cleaning up after their dogs while walking them. If an officer sees it the pet owner will be cited.

In the engineer's report, Mr. Wagner said the long-awaited demolition of the abandoned house at 511 Brownsville Rd. was completed. The entire cost was funded by SHACOG.

The next meeting of the Hilltop Economic Development Corp. will be on Jan. 28 in the Elder-ado senior center on Brownsville Rd.

In the public safety report, Councilman Patrick Malloy said the fire department responded to eight calls — from assisting EMS to gas leaks to building fires.

Everyone should be careful when using kerosene heaters. For more information, visit the Mount Oliver Fire Dept. website at:

In the code enforcement report, there were 80 citations for not clearing sidewalks of snow.

In the police report, Mr. Malloy said 643 calls were answered last month, and police vehicles logged 7,727 miles. There were three drug arrests, two DUIs. Officers conducted 71 park-and-walks in the borough.

Maintenance costs for December on the police vehicles were $1,285.93. All the equipment and surveillance cameras are up and running.

For 2009, there were 8,647 total calls, and the maintenance cost on police vehicles was $30,417.81.

In the public works report, Mr. Obeldobel asked fire chief Fran Kestner, who was in attendance, to order new street lights to replace the burned-out ones on Brownsville Rd. Mr. Kestner, an electrician by profession, agreed.

During the recreation report, Mr. Cassidy said the former Mount Oliver Athletic Association will not be resurrected in 2010. Last July, resident Justin Eberhart said he wanted to restart the association by offering baseball, softball, and basketball this year.

But Mr. Cassidy said Mr. Eberhart informed him that, due to personal issues, Mr. Eberhart will instead aim for 2011 for his plans.

In the computer/risk management report, Councilwoman Sara Kudasick said risk management will begin reviewing policies and procedures for the employees manual.

Also, a safety committee will be formed that will meet monthly on safety issues within borough departments, like public works. Training will be provided to employees, if necessary.

In the solicitor's report, James Perich said the borough secured a tax anticipation loan for 2.5 percent for $100,000 through Northwest Savings Bank on Brownsville Rd. Last year's rate was 3.25 percent.

The next council meeting will be on Feb. 15.


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