Waynesboro to raise sewer rates

July 08, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Sewer rates in the Borough of Waynesboro are going up 15 percent effective Aug. 1, and water and sewer officials say the rate hike could be just the beginning.

Revenue from the increase will be used to pay for engineering and early stages of making $11.4 million worth of upgrades to the sewer treatment plant, according to Waynesboro Borough Authority Chairman Jon Fleagle.

The upgrades need to be in place by October 2013 because of greater restrictions on nutrient pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay, he said.

Without receiving grants for the project, "a 15 percent rate increase is going to look like nothing. ... We could be looking at double or triple" the existing rates, Fleagle said.


Borough officials said the 15 percent increase will translate into $9.66 a billing quarter for a customer using up to 15,000 gallons. The current rate for that customer is about $64 a quarter.

Most customers fall into that category, Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said.

The Waynesboro Borough Council unanimously approved the rate hike at its Wednesday meeting. Hamberger said the borough authority is to ratify the change at its next meeting as a formality.

The borough has 6,000 sewer customers, Utility Director Leiter Pryor said.

Fleagle said the borough upgraded its plant in the late 1960s and late 1980s, but the nutrients requirements change.

"It is a moving target," Hamberger said of what is required.

Similar projects will be occurring across Pennsylvania in communities in the watershed, Fleagle said. The Borough of Chambersburg's upgrades could cost more than $40 million, he said.

Chambersburg Borough Council President William McLaughlin said his council is almost ready to hire a consultant to launch its project. He expressed doubt that grants would do much to ease the financial burden associated with meeting the nutrient requirements.

"Rate payers (everywhere) are going to end up paying everything because the money just isn't out there," he said.

Waynesboro officials contacted state legislators and applied for an H20 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Fleagle said.

Pryor said the plant uses the correct method of treatment, but can't meet the new requirements as it is today. A letter about the changes stated the Environmental Protection Agency, Chesapeake Bay Commission and involved states agreed to the new requirements.

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