Analysis shows joint Act 537 Plan beneficial for both Hegins and Hubley
Published: October 17, 2013
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VALLEY VIEW - As Hegins Twp. Supervisors continue to hear concerns whether to do a joint Act 537 plan with Hubley Township or to do it alone, David Miller, an engineer with Alfred Benesch and Company presented an analysis completed by Benesch to substantiate that a joint Act 537 Plan is beneficial for both Hegins and Hubley Townships, during Monday evening's meeting of the Hegins Township Supervisors.
In the hand-out that Miller read from, the analysis stated the primary benefit is financial; however secondary benefits include improvement to the environment and greater opportunity for economic development.
The analysis stated: for the purpose of the evaluation, the assumptions include:
- Service area includes the 'core areas' only (Hegins, Valley View, Sacramento and Spring Glen). No 'outlying' areas have been incorporated until the assessment, required by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) is complete.
- The 'core area' conceptual total projects' costs are $17.5 million for the Hegins Township portion and $5 million for the Hubley Township portion.
- The same loan terms (interest rate and years) are applied to both a 'Hegins-only' project and a joint project so the analysis is comparing 'apples to apples.'
Nine funding scenarios were evaluated for a 'Hegins-only' project and joint project. Of the nine scenarios, six show the suer rate being reduced for a joint project, one shows equal rate. Two scenarios show the cost increasing; however, this is due to financing the majority of the project costs over a period of 20 instead of 30 years. PENNVEST has recently confirmed that the 'Hegins/Hubley project would definitely qualify for 1% at 30 years loan funding.'
During Miller's presentation members of the public asked questions and voiced their concerns.
Roger Wetzel, on behalf of Leon Maurer and Bill Wolfgang, who were unable to attend the meeting, presented a petition signed by more than 600 Hegins Township residents who claim they want the question of whether or not to do a joint plan with Hubley Twp. placed on the spring ballot.
"We have 25-30% of the taxpayers signatures, certainly more than the 20% needed to get a referendum on the ballot, I hope that you as supervisors will not ignore this," said Wetzel.
Charles Greenhaus, a resident of Hubley Twp. attended the meeting and spoke out on the subject.
"I have been watching this from the beginning," said Greenhaus. "I agree we that we all need a sewer system, however I do see why there is a great deal of suspicion and trust, but that doesn't mean that it's not a good plan. The financial issue has to do with property taxes in these communities. We have land owners who hoard the land and don't pay what the land is worth. We need to start assessing property upon purchase. We are at the ass-end of nothing in Hubley, to separate the sewer system is fool-hardy, the numbers are realistic, but the assessed values are not realistic. The leaders of these communities better start looking where the money comes from."
Greenhaus pointed out several properties and what they are assessed at and what the actual tax bill is.
The supervisors adopted an inter-municipal agreement with Hubley Twp. Supervisors and Hegins-Hubley Water Authority, to give the authority authorization to provide services after the plan is approved. According to Township Solicitor Gretchen Sterns, this agreement will allow the authority to investigate the solar farm and determine the due diligence of being part of the plan.
The supervisors also approved a $30,000 loan to Hegins-Hubley Authority to help pay for the aerial mapping that must be completed between the time of all the leaves being off the tree and no snow on the ground. The authority will pay the township back when the financing is obtained for the Act 537 project. The note must be paid by October 31, 2016 at 2.5% interest.
Todd Daubenspeck, a resident of Hegins, asked what will happen if the residents of Hegins Twp. win and the project is not a joint one. Sterns said there are provisions in the agreement to terminate it.
"The purpose of the agreement is to save on costs and to give the authority the authorization to do things in a cost-effective manner," said Sterns.
"I'm really concerned how people are going to afford this monthly bill of the sewer," said Wetzel. "No one can tell us where the hook-ups are gonna be going. If the monthly bill is $100 to $150, I just don't see how people living on $400-$500 a month are going to be able to afford this."
"DEP won't mandate a sewer project if it's not affordable," said Sterns. That's why all these studies must be conducted and determinations made."
Supervisor Brad Carl said Earl Frailey from DEP said if the plan isn't affordable it will be sent back stating such.
"We need to keep in mind that the Act 537 plan will effect everyone in Hegins and Hubley Townships including every rural property owner," said Sterns. "Those not connected to the system will have to have on-lot pumping or inspections of their current systems conducted every so many years set in the plan. The townships may qualify for grants to help with all the costs as well. We need to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best."
All complaints to the township must now be placed in writing and must be signed in order to be addressed at township meetings.
Trick-or-Treat will be observed in Hegins Township on October 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. Trunk-or-Treat will also be held at Trinity Lutheran Church parking lot. The township will close Maple Street between Gap Street and Park Lane during those hours.
The township is changing the office hours once again. The new hours will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday, 1 to 5 p.m. Evening appointments can be made by calling 570-682-9133.
Recently Jesse Zerbe sold his garbage business and the new owners don't want to continue picking up the ashes for residents. Hegins Township will take over picking up the ashes and will do so on Monday's instead of Thursdays. If it snows pick up will be the next day. Anybody wishing to get on the ash pickup list that are not able to bring their ashes to the township building can do so by calling 570-682-9133. Ashes will only be picked up at the roadside curb. The township will not be responsible for any damaged ash tubs. The dates of pickup for the rest of the year will be: October 17, November 4, December 9, 16, 23 and 30. The schedule for 2014 is as follows: Jan. 6, 13, 20, 27; Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24; March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; April 7, 21; May 5, 26; June 16; July 7, 28; August 18; Sept. 8, 29; Oct. 13, 27; Nov. 10, 24; Dec. 8, 15, 22, 29.
Dates to remember
The next township meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Hegins Area Ambulance Building, Gap Street.
The next food pantry will be held November 20, beginning at 8 a.m. at the township building on Gap Street.