Changes in sewer deal upset Callery residents
Bill adds costs of new plant
Eagle Staff Writer
November 10, 2013
CALLERY — The borough council is balking at provisions set by the newly formed Evans City Water and Sewer Authority regarding service in 2014. Callery has had an agreement since 1987 with Evans City for sewer service. During that time, Evans City ran the plant where Callery pumped its sewage. But last year a new and separate water and sewer authority was formed in Evans City in part because the borough’s debt ceiling did not allow it to borrow the money needed to build a new, $9.5 million sewer plant. Callery Councilman Ed Conway said last week that because of the construction of the new plant, the new authority is asking his borough to pay $168,000 for sewage treatment in 2014. He said the current annual bill is about $60,000. He said that amount could increase because it is based on 12 million gallons of sewage per year, and Callery has in a single month pumped more than 2 million gallons to Evans City’s plant. Conway said his council would be forced to ask residents to pay $110 per month for sewer while Evans City residents would pay $48. “They want us to pay more than double what they’re paying,” Conway said. “We have a lot of elderly, widows and widowers, and low-income residents. People in affluent areas don’t pay over $100 a month for sewer service.” According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Callery’s 394 residents earn a median income of $44,000. Conway said according to the agreement with Evans City, the Callery council should have had a vote in forming the authority. He also said Callery’s agreement is with the borough, not the new authority. He said the Callery council would like to connect to Breakneck Creek Regional Authority, which is about a mile away. Conway said Breakneck officials have said they would be able to take Callery on, but Callery first must get out of its agreement with Evans City. Conway said the existing agreement states that if Callery disputes any provisions of the agreement, the matter will be decided in county court. “We’re a court case away,” Conway said. Dan Dow, the HRG engineer for the sewer and water authority, said that while he did not have the specific monthly and annual costs for Callery in 2014 because he was traveling, the costs are based on a formula in the agreement. He admitted the construction of the new sewer plant was not anticipated when the agreement was signed 25 years ago. “From the authority standpoint, we would like Callery to pay their portion of what the cost (of the new plant) is,” Dow said, “but a new agreement needs to be worked between (Callery) and the authority.” Philip Lope, the authority’s solicitor, said that he does not think Conway’s claim that the agreement is invalid is accurate. “If that’s true, they’re still pumping sewage to Evans City, and they’re treating it,” Lope said. He said talks between Callery and Evans City regarding the matter have been ongoing. He said he has every expectation that the situation will be worked out to everyone’s advantage. “It’s kind of a jumbled mess,” Lope said. “It’s so difficult to negotiate these things.” Dow said construction on the new plant will begin in a few weeks, and should be finished by December 2014.