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Borough set to approve tapping fee

May 23, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Developers in Chambersburg will begin paying to tap into the borough's water and sewer system next year under an ordinance Borough Council members will vote on next week.

The council has discussed tapping fees since at least 1998, when Gannett Fleming completed a study of what rates the borough could charge based on state guidelines.

During a public work session this week, council members agreed it was time for the borough to enact a tapping fee ordinance but said it should not go into effect until Jan. 1, in order to give developers time to work the new costs into their contracts.

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For new residential development, the fees will average about $3,035 to connect to the borough's water and sewer system, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said.

Most neighboring municipalities have the charges, he said.

In the last 12 years, the borough would have brought in $2.5 million from residential development alone to use on capital improvements to the borough's water and sewer system if the fee had been in place, Oyer said.

That money could have prevented the borough from borrowing $2 million for its current water project, which includes building a new water main.

Oyer said if there was no loan, the 20 percent rate hike borough water customers saw last year would have been lower.

Developer Matthew Knoll said at the meeting that he didn't object to the fees, but he pressed for a delay in collecting the fees to allow time to include them in his contracts.

"Right now, the borough of Chambersburg is a bargain. We've been blessed for some time," he said.

He said his company has started to include a stipulation in contracts for a possible $3,000 tapping fee, but said if the ordinance goes into effect before October, "We would be in a lurch for eight contracts."

Council members agreed builders should have advance warning about the new fees.

"Jan. 1 seems applicable. No one can say they didn't know about it," Council President Bill McLaughlin said.

Developers will have to pay the fee to the borough before they can tap in to the water and sewer system or receive an occupancy permit.

The ordinance will be on Tuesday's Borough Council agenda. Council members could still decide to change the amount of the fee or when it goes into effect.

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