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Mayor to propose regional approach to managing levee costs

As levee and pump station repair costs approach $20 million, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana proposed Friday there be a new regional authority to tackle the recertification of the flood protection dike and system.

“Either a regional authority (should) be created or the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority should control the levee and maintenance of it,” he said. “We are looking at $16 million for the levee, with additional costs of about $4 million for upgrades to the pump stations.”

Earlier estimates of the levee structural repair costs were $13.6 million to $15.8 million in five years.

The pump stations are not required to be repaired but they should be so they are in proper working condition to protect the city, Campana said.

A regional approach is the best method to deal with the ongoing costs, which have climbed over the years. In the short term, the city plan is to work with the county planning department and other municipalities such as South Williamsport and the townships of Old Lycoming and Loyalsock, he said.

Campana said he feels confident the $2.5 million for relief well replacement and repairs in the city and South Williamsport can be located through grants for which the city will apply.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, is aware and waiting for a cost estimate for a state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant, said Jason Fitzgerald, president of Penn Strategies Inc., the city’s economic development consultant.

The federal lawmakers also are looking into the issue, Campana said.

Government input will be minimal and the numbers show an authority will be needed to cover the expenses in the long-term, he said.

The city is facing a financial challenge unlike it has in years before with possible layoffs and outsourcing to be part of a three- to five-year financial plan presented later this month to City Council.

“Our region will be paying for the bulk of the cost,” Campana said.

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