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UTMA board approves sewer line transfer pact with LMA

The Unity Township Municipal Authority (UTMA) board on Wednesday approved a resolution to transfer a section of sanitary sewer line to the Latrobe Municipal Authority (LMA) as part of the Act 537 stormwater management plan consent order agreement.

During a special meeting held just prior to UTMA’s regular monthly meeting, engineer Kevin Brett of authority engineer Lennon, Smith, Souleret Engineering Inc. said the transfer pertains to an area of sewer line that stretches from Rotary Park to the cloverleaf interchange of routes 30 and 982 and then to its northernmost point just upstream from the Mission Road bridge, near the location of the project’s Nine Mile Run interceptor.

As part of the consent order agreement, a parallel sewer line is being constructed not far from the existing sewer line. Brett said the new sewer line, once completed, will use a route similar to the current line.

Brett said the new sewer line will “connect along the way with a number of structures and utilizes a segment of the (existing) sewer, as well as the new sewer to convey sewage from this watershed to the interceptor.”

In the future, authority officials and engineers said it’s expected that both sewer lines will be active once the new line is completed.

“Ultimately, it will be LMA’s decision what to do with it,” UTMA operations manager Doug Pike said of the existing sewer line. “My current understanding is that they’re going to use both of (the lines).”

The UTMA board approved the transfer agreement during Wednesday’s regular meeting. Board member Paul Upson was absent and fellow board member Mike O’Barto had to leave the meeting before a vote was taken.

No residents were present to discuss the transfer during the special meeting.

Brett said the existing 15-inch sewer line dates back to the late 1960s, around the same time as the construction of the Greater Latrobe Senior High School complex in Unity Township.

Within the consent order agreement, Brett noted that it was “always anticipated” that the section of existing sewer line would be transferred to LMA and be maintained by the authority on a long-term basis.

Aside from the existing sewer line, Pike said UTMA’s plan is to convey all other related items to LMA — pipes, manholes and any recorded rights of way that are transferable — as part of the transfer.

With Wednesday’s approval, the transfer agreement will now go to LMA solicitor Lee Demosky for review.

In other business:

  • The board approved a pay requisition of $172,534.04 for engineering, administrative, legal fees and and a bond-related matter. Pike said the latter item, which accounts for the bulk of the requisition total at roughly $158,000, will be used for a bond arbitration payment;
  • The authority board discussed the possibility of providing UTMA employees with pepper spray after the authority recently took part in safety training. The pepper spray, Pike noted, could be used if an employee came in contact with a disgruntled customer or a dog during a shut-off visit. He said the authority plans to discuss the matter further with its insurance carrier;
  • Brett said work on the Donohoe Road sewer extension project is underway and contractor Bella Enterprises Inc. is expected to continue construction through the winter, as the weather allows;
  • Brett said UTMA is looking to finalize a facilities review over the next few months and put together a long-range program for future projects;
  • Pike said 866 customers have enrolled in the authority’s e-billing program;
  • Pike said three tap-ins were issued over the past month;
  • The board went into executive session for litigation-related matters.

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LTMA board sets meeting dates, still mulling 2020 budget

The Ligonier Township Municipal Authority (LTMA) board is still reviewing a 2020 budget for the authority, but took action on Wednesday to finalize a list of meeting dates and times for 2020 that includes changes from the board’s schedule from previous years.

Recently, the board has held meetings the first and last Wednesdays of each month, leaving the board with meetings in back-to-back weeks. For 2020, the board will hold its meetings on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, starting with Jan. 8 because of the New Year’s Day holiday. A full list of meeting dates and times will be advertised and posted on the LTMA website, www.ligtwpwater.com, secretary Haidee Street said.

In another change for 2020, both monthly board meetings will begin at 4 p.m. The board had previously held its first meeting of each month starting at 7 p.m. with a 4 p.m. start time for the second monthly meeting.

The board heard from water system engineer Jake Bolby of The EADS Group and Barb McMillen of Gibson-Thomas Engineering Co. Inc., which serves as the authority’s engineering firm for its sewage system, that the engineering firms had submitted applications on behalf of the authority seeking grant funding through the H2O PA and PA Small Water & Sewage grant programs.

The Small Water & Sewer grant awards between $30,000 and $500,000 and requires a local match of 15% while the H2O PA program is for larger projects — from $500,000 up to $20 million. It requires applicants to provide a 50% match.

The board earlier this month approved seeking $2 million in H2O PA grant funding to replace water lines and meters that are approaching the end of their useful life, and submitting an application for funding form the PA Small Water & Sewage grant program for the replacement of pumps at a pump station near the Park Plan area of the township.

LTMA Manager Anthony “Griff” Griffith said previously the H2O PA grant would allow the authority to replace roughly 1,600 water meters with newer models that would help quickly alert the authority and customers to in-home leaks.

With current meters, abnormally high usage isn’t noticed until bills are compiled and distributed to customers. With new meters, the authority and customers would be alerted when the meter has been running continuously for 24 hours straight, signifying a leak at some point after the meter.

The H2O PA grant would also fund replacement of water lines in areas prone to problems with high water pressure, Griffith said.

LTMA’s PennVEST loan for the proposed water system improvement project would count as the authority’s eligible match for the H2O PA program, Bolby said. If awarded the H2O PA grant, the authority could expand the scope of the planned water system improvements to include new water meters and water line replacements outlined in the grant application documentation.

In other business, the board approved a resolution authorizing any of the LTMA board members except William Stablein to sign title transfer paperwork for the sale of the authority’s out-of-service 1989 Ford dump truck for $1,479.64 to Stablein after Stablein submitted the highest of five bids for the purchase of the vehicle.

Street also reminded customers billed quarterly that the authority’s water rate changes that were approved in September will appear on quarterly customers’ bills for the first time in January.

The lowest base rate under the approved rate change is $20.50 per month, which includes the customer’s first 1,000 gallons of water usage each month. Under previous water rates, customers paid a base rate of $6 and $8.40 for each 1,000 gallons of water used. A residential customer using exactly 1,000 gallons in a month would have paid $14.40 under previous rates and will pay $20.50 under the new rates. After the first 1,000 gallons under the new rates, customers will be charged $9 per 1,000 gallons.

Regardless of the timing of customers’ bills, the base rate of $20.50 per month will include 1,000 gallons of usage for that month, meaning customers getting quarterly bills will have a base rate of $61.50 for the three-month period covered by each bill, with 3,000 gallons of usage for that quarter included in the base rate.

While base rates for all customers are the same, and calculated based on the customer’s meter size, commercial customers will be charged a different tiered rate for usage.

Commercial customers using up to 100,000 gallons in a billing cycle will pay $12 per 1,000 gallons. Those using between 100,001 and 200,000 gallons will pay $13 per 1,000 gallons, and those using more will pay $14.50 per 1,000 gallons.

The new water rates went into effect Oct. 1.

Lindsey Greenleaf of Singer Accounting estimated prior to the board’s vote on the rate change that the new rates would generate $267,300 in additional revenue, or enough to cover the authority’s debt service payments on the proposed water system improvements at least initially. Rising operating costs in future years may require the authority to revisit its water rates.

Photo by Bill Pribisco  

Don Lachie of Latrobe, a collector of old Christmas lighting and electronic items for about 35 years, shows the 1950s-era bubbling lights in his collection, currently part of an antique Christmas display in the Ligonier Valley Library’s Pennsylvania Room. The free exhibit runs through Jan. 14. Pennsylvania Room hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, visit ligonierlibrary.org or call 724-238-6451.

Photos by Bill Pribisco  

Ligonier Valley High School Student Council members Kamden Boyle and Mike Knupp, wearing their holiday sweaters, serve up the plates of food at the senior citizen luncheon.

Photo by Bill Pribisco 

The left photo shows a member of the Ligonier Valley High School Student Council, Eva Shearer, serving plates of turkey and mashed potatoes to Ron Bash and Paul Shumaker.

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DTMA approves resolution for bond refinancing

The Derry Township Municipal Authority (DTMA) on Wednesday approved a resolution to move forward with a bond refinancing plan early next year.

Earlier this month, township supervisors approved an ordinance authorizing the incurring of lease rental indebtedness between the township and DTMA, which will allow the authority to refinance its outstanding bonds at a lower interest rate.

Lisa Chiesa, attorney with Clark Hill, said previously that the township is refinancing projects for lowest interest rates from 2012 and another one the following year.

Chiesa said the underwriter of the bonds, PNC Capital Markets, will put together a preliminary offering document and will get indications of interest.

Then, it will price on a particular day, which is when the fixed interest rate is going to be locked in.

Chiesa said the bonds are at a maximum of $9.2 million and she estimated savings of at least $250,000 and possibly more.

Authority manager Carol L. Henderson said the bond underwriter could lock in a rate sometime in January, assuming rates remain favorable.