Shuster presents Hamilton Township with sewer grant

June 03, 2003|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A new pumping station for the Hamilton Township Municipal Authority will cost approximately $900,000, but higher sewer rates to pay for it likely will be unnecessary, thanks in part to a federal appropriation announced Monday by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster.

"It's either getting a grant or raising rates," Authority Chairman Harry Fix said after Shuster's announcement of the $223,000 appropriation at the authority's office. "We haven't raised rates in about seven years."

"Water and sewer projects, which are not glamorous at all, are absolutely essential to economic development," Shuster said. "Pennsylvania has an aging infrastructure. It's very old throughout the 9th Congressional District."


He noted that some communities, such as Tyrone, have water systems that still use wooden pipes in some of their oldest sections.

The federal money, part of an omnibus appropriations bill passed by both houses of Congress earlier this year, may come in particularly handy if the state Legislature ends Act 339 subsidies to municipal utilities, according to William Hemsley, a consulting engineer on the authority project.

"They've been trying to do away with that for years and it looks like they will do away with it this time," Hemsley said. Cutting the program was included in Gov. Ed Rendell's initial budget proposal.

Municipal Authority Manager Jody Eyer said the system receives about $50,000 in Act 339 funds each year for operation and maintenance of the sewer system.

The pump house on Fern Avenue off Frank Road is the largest of the 14 operated by the authority, according to Hemsley. Built in the 1970s, it has only one pump, although the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources now requires two pumps for redundancy.

The new variable speed pumps will, however, be more energy efficient than the old pump, which ran only at one speed, Hemsley said.

In addition to the appropriation, Eyer said the authority refinanced a bond issue to help pay for the project. The refinancing included more borrowing for the pump house, but lower interest rates. He said the savings on interest will allow the authority to use about $450,000 from bond redemption and improvement fund.

Hemsley said the authority hopes to get the pump house project out for bids in a few weeks. That and another project, a 6,000-foot sewer line extension, could get started later this year.

The total cost for both projects is about $1.4 million, Hemsley said.

The extension will be on Guitner Road and will pick up about 40 new customers, according to Eyer. The extension is necessary because much of the land there is unsuitable for on-site septic systems, Hemsley said.

Eyer said each of the approximately 6,000 customers on the system pay $28 a month for service. The system also serves portions of Letterkenny Township, Fix said.

The Herald-Mail Articles