Water-sewer rates to go up — but not taxes — in Wellsboro

WELLSBORO – There is no real estate tax increase for borough property owners in the 2014 proposed budget, following action at council’s Monday meeting.

The $2.9 million budget will keep the millage rate at 6.33 mills.

The water fund budget of $960,600 and sewer fund budget of nearly $800,000 also were approved.

Water and sewer fees will increase by $3 on the base rate per month and 25 cents per 1,000 gallons starting at 3,000 gallons per month.

Councilman Mike Wood noted it has been six to seven years since the rates were increased, and that the increase was needed “to protect the $2 million water and sewer plant investment.”

“This is an excellent way to put money away each year for wear and tear so there are no big increases,” he added.

In unrelated business, the poor condition of some sidewalks in the borough prompted one councilman here to push for more enforcement of a borough sidewalk ordinance.

The borough has a sidewalk program, said council chairwoman Joan Hart.

“We pay to take up the old cement and put gravel down for the base of the new sidewalk, but residents have to pay for the concrete and labor to have it poured, or pour it themselves,” she said.

Councilman John Sticklin said there needed to be better enforcement of the ordinance because he “didn’t see much improvement.”

“There’s a lot of places need fixing. I think we ought to get that ordinance out and write some letters and lean on people who aren’t paying much attention,” he said.

Wood disagreed.

“I’m not going to the point of telling someone they have to do that when they can’t afford to do it,” he said.

Councilman Terry Bryant agreed with Sticklin, saying “we have an ordinance in place.”

“We have an ordinance for everything but if you can’t afford to do it why put people through hell?” Wood replied.

Hart suggested sending letters out suggesting instead of making a demand, informing people about the borough’s program.

In other business, council:

Approved putting out for bid work to be paid for by the Municipal Authority to connect the eight water services on Grant Street currently connected to a leaky four inch line to the new eight inch water line with the cost not to exceed $75,000. The old line will be abandoned.

Agreed accept a bid to reconstruct 1,700 linear feet of Greenwood Street in the spring using funds from the state Turnback program for $273,756 to include rebuilding the base, drainage, the roadway itself all new signs. The pipe under the road remains PennDOT property.

Agreed to allow free two hour parking on Main Street from Charleston Street to Central Avenue during the Christmas shopping season Nov. 23-Dec. 31.

Agreed to purchase 100 double and 50 single parking meter covers for $2,098 from Canvasworks, Inc., Minnesota.

Agreed to remove 26 pine trees from the Charleston Street ball field and approved the concept of constructing a parking area.

Heard that several trees will be planted on Main Street, Horseshoe Hill, Meade Street, Queen Street and Park Place purchased with funds from the Northeast Pennsylvania Urban and Community Forestry Program’s Special Bare Root Tree Grant.

Approved a request from Hamilton-Gibson Productions to place donated pianos on Main Street during next year’s Summer Fringe Festival June 22-29, to be given away following the festival.

Heard that Susquehanna Health’s request for a parking lot variance was approved by the borough’s Zoning Hearing Board.

Approved a proposal from EADS Group to prepare the multi-municipal comprehensive plan for $39,965, with each municipality, Wellsboro, Charleston, Delmar and Duncan, contributing $6,250.

Heard that fall cleanup week will be the week of Oct. 21 on regular pick-up days. No appliances or electrical items with cords will be picked up.

Halloween trick or treat hours will be Oct. 31 immediately following the annual parade at 5:30 until 8 p.m.

Heard that several items placed on an online auction service, Auction International, sold bringing in more than $10,000 for the borough, including: $5,300 for a skid steer; $2,023 for a wood chipper; $2,235 for a tractor and $770 for used traffic light and controllers.