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Subsidy to help some pay for sewer connection

October 29, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The financial burden on some residents of Quincy Township, Pa., who must connect their homes to the municipal sewer system will be eased by state and county grants announced Tuesday by the Franklin County Commissioners.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners announced the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has approved an additional $350,000 to subsidize sewer lateral hookups for low- and moderate-income residents. Unlike the entitlement grants the county receives each year from the Community Development Block Grant program, this money comes from a fund for which municipalities compete, according to Phil Wolgemuth, a county planner.

"The requests far exceeded the allocation," said Commissioner G. Warren Elliott. Wolgemuth said municipalities across the state were competing for a total of about $7 million in grants.

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Quincy Township has been building an $11.5 million sewer system, but the property owners along its route are required to pay to install laterals between the main lines and their homes and businesses. The grant will help low- and moderate-income homeowners pay the cost, which Township Supervisor Robert Gunder said can average more than $15 per foot.

"We've had people going close to 300 feet" to connect to the system, Gunder said.

According to a survey conducted by the county as part of the grant application, 471 of the 837 residential users living along the sewer system route qualify as low- or moderate-income households, or about 56 percent. For a family of four, a household income of $43,000 can mean they qualify.

In previous years, the county allocated $244,000 in block grant funding for lateral installation subsidies, bringing the total to $594,000.

About 370 households are eligible for the subsidy, according to Gunder. Low- and moderate-income residents in rental housing do not, since the landlords will be paying the cost of installation.

Once a home is connected, the qualified owner brings the bill to the township to receive a subsidy, Gunder said. Now that more money is available, Gunder said the township will have to devise a new formula on how much of the installation cost will be reimbursed.

The commissioners also approved an allocation of $33,600 from the county's housing trust fund for tap fees for low-income residents. In addition to paying for the installation of sewer laterals, property owners must also pay a $1,400 fee to connect to the system. The money will be used to subsidize the tap fees for residents with very low incomes.

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