Public hearing set for sewage plant funds

The public will have a chance Thursday to weigh in on a funding realignment for the Beaver Lake Sewage Treatment Plant project.

More than $74,000 in the form of a Community Development Block Grant has been diverted from the project, which is called an “abandonment” of funds and requires a hearing to be held for public comment.

However, “that doesn’t mean the funds have been literally ‘abandoned,’ ” Kristin McLaughlin, SEDA-COG Community Development project coordinator, said. “They have not been forfeited. They have been moved to another project.”

The block grant, a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, initially was approved to make repairs and improvements to the treatment plant, which was damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

After a survey of permanent residents in Beaver Lake and their average income level, however, the state Department of Community and Economic Development – which administers the block grants – determined that the project did not meet eligibility requirements because it did not encompass seasonal residents and properties without existing structures.

Performing an additional survey would have taken time that could have put other funding sources at risk, McLaughlin said, as grants must be used within a specified time frame.

Faced with the possibility of losing the funding altogether, the commissioners voted to move the funds to the DuBoistown sanitary sewer lateral repair project in October of 2013.

The project has not stalled since then, however.

The county offered $40,000 in gas impact fee funding, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by Penn Township, for the purchase of a new grinder pump for the plant.

Of that amount, the pump cost $70,000 and the remaining $10,000 was put toward upgrades to the control building, which has been approved for additional grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to bring it back to its pre-flood condition, said Bill Kelly, deputy director of planning and community development.

The next upgrade for the plant is a supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, system that can remotely monitor activity at the plant, and one that the county is “exploring all options” for, in terms of funding sources.

Kelly said those are just some of the examples of the “steadfast support” that the county has for the project.

“The county continues to look for solutions in conjuction with the water and sewer authority and Beaver Lake residents,” he said.

The hearing will be held during the next county commissioners meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Pine Street Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St.