East Penn Press

Thursday, December 13, 2018

LOWER MILFORD TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS

Thursday, September 27, 2018 by VICTORIA SMITH Special to The Press in Local News

Limeport Village residents frustrated after rising sewage rates

Lower Milford Township supervisors came under fire from Limeport Village residents concerned with rising sewage rates at the meeting Sept. 20.

Resident Pouran Esrafily took the lead in voicing five residents’ frustrations with a recent 12 percent increase in monthly sewage costs.

“Maintenance of the sewage fund is out of hand,” Esrafily said. “We cannot afford it. No one pays $1,200 per month for their sewage. I know you guys are doing your best and it’s a complicated township, but everyone is benefitting from maintaining the open space and clean creek water and we few in the village are paying for it and that is not right.”

The residents attended to represent those who cannot afford the charges.

Supervisor John Quigley responded to the issue at hand. “The fees have to match the usage. Ability to pay isn’t even part of the equation. In this instance, it was not our decision to do this, we did what we had to do as required by the federal government.”

Supervisor Donna Wright elaborated further.

“We cannot by law charge anyone else in the community for the public sewage,” Wright said. “The increase is due to maintenance and testing that has to be done by law so that it’s running properly and clean. Our biggest problem is that we got in the least expensive, best working, smallest option [sewage treatment plant] to fit what everybody wanted to do, with the knowledge that we had properties for sale that were open to take some of the cost off you guys. We have seen zero development, but at the time we had seen plans that would have been about 20 more homes.”

Resident Robin Gayle also commented.

“But we can’t depend on that [future development],” Gayle said. “Where is the right of the individual? Also, I don’t understand who determines who is exempt from hooking up. If you want to sell your home and you’re paying over 1,000 per month, no one’s going to buy your home. I think what we want to do is bring it up so we can start thinking about this.” The residents sought answers and solutions from the board pertaining to the rising costs.

The Department of Environmental Protection determines who is required to hook up to public sewage.

Township Manager Ellen Koplin detailed the financial specifics of operating the plant to DEP specifications. “It was a $650,000 loan and a $2 million project. We have 13 years left. State law says the financial burden of the plant has to be met by the users, whatever properties benefit from it. We have to pay for the operators, testing, maintenance and a nice chunk every year goes to PENNVEST to pay down the loan.”

Wright said the board was not benefitting from the charges. “We don’t make any money on this,” Wright said. “It goes directly into the maintenance and payment of your sewage.”

Esrafily and Gayle asked to review the financial records pertaining to the repayment of the loan and other costs of the plant from the beginning of the project. The board said those records are available for review by resident request at the township building.

Solutions were put forth from both sides of the aisle.

Supervisor Michael Snovitch suggested the board reach out to Upper Saucon Township to inquire about any properties who could potentially hook up to the Lower Milford system, instead of Upper Saucon extending its own pipeline. Esrafily advocated for a volunteer group to ask for donations to help offset the cost for Limeport Village residents. Wright encouraged residents to reach out to state Sen. Pat Browne, R-16th and state Rep. Justin Simmons, R-131st for information on any state level programs available to help residents.

Limeport Village residents agreed to pursue both the donation campaign and reaching out to the state. Both parties agreed to report back their progress at next month’s supervisors meeting scheduled for Oct. 18.