FRILLS CORNERS - The sewage line extension project in Washington Township is incurring costs even though it is far from finished and the Washington Township Municipal Authority had to address those costs at its recent meeting.
The bills earmarked for payment included: $10,000 to attorney John Marshall for filing the LEGUDA paperwork; $19,101 for easement payments for vacant parcels; and $294,135 for The EADS Group services on the project over the past five years.
The authority voted to pay the accumulated bills by a 3-1 margin with Kevin McCauley being the lone no vote.
"Just to clarify, these motions and these votes which pertain to this (Washington Township sewage extension), I will be voting no on all of them," McCauley said.
The Washington Township Municipal Authority is scheduled have $1,599,514 in grant funding made available from PennVEST while there will also be $256,087 in loans available.
There are other pre-project fees the authority will have to pay such as fees for attorney Joseph Keebler and some of the construction outlets who put in bids.
One of McCauley's biggest issues was with how much the payback for the project is going to be.
McCauley asked what the loan balance was estimated to be, but project manager Kyle Schwabenbauer from The EADS Group said there will be no way to know what the loan balance will be until the very end of the project.
Schwabenbauer said EADS is projecting there will be a loan balance because of delays and increased costs.
Schwabenbauer said the delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused the need to use the loan.
Schwabenbauer said the project was estimated to be finished without using any loan before the pandemic.
There will be 43 homes on the sewage extension and the estimated cost for those residents for the loan payback would be $27.20 per month per customer.
There are currently 149 customers on the Washington Township sewage and their loan payback amount for the treatment plant is $37.78 per month.
McCauley is worried that the higher sewage costs will ultimately drive residents out of the township.
"You have the reasoning to go back to (the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) and say this project is not feasible for us because the costs have exacerbated itself over COVID. You could say, We're not going to do this project.'"
There was also a concern voiced by McCauley that the sewage rates for the sewage treatment plant went up due to outside factors and he asked what is the recourse if the rates for the extension increase as well.
"Are you going to (complain) to the electric company when they raise their rates?" Municipal Authority member Eric Bauer asked McCauley.
McCauley responded, "Electric is a totally different aspect than this, Eric. They are in competition with each other to keep their rates where they are. Plus they are regulated. This is not regulated."
Schwabenbauer said the sewage extension project is scheduled to begin in October.
The board also voted to submit a pay request to PennVEST for reimbursement. The measure passed by a 3-1 margin with McCauley being the lone no vote.