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Water, sewer authority mulls rate hikes, no change at Beaver Lake

The Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority’s communities may see a rate increase for 2019 — except for Beaver Lake, said Christine Weigle, authority executive director.

Rate increases are proposed as follows:

• Mifflin Manor Sewer from $120 to $130 per household per month.

• Armstrong Sewer from $65 to $70 per household per month

• Montoursville Regional Sewer System from $65 to $70 per household per month

Regional Water may see a 5.6 percent increase on consumption only, meaning the $9.50 per 1,000 gallons rate will increase to $10 per 1,000 gallons. There will be no increase to the base customer charge nor for fire protection.

Limestone Water may see a 3 percent increase in rates, increasing the “block rate” as more water is used.

The authority’s $5.2 million budget proposal is available online at www.lcwsa.net, and is expected to be adopted at its next meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 5 at the authority building, 380 Old Cement Road, Montoursville.

Beaver Lake’s rates are expected to remain flat at $161 per household per month with the help of an agreement approved Wednesday between the authority and Penn Township.

The agreement states the township will contribute $11,473 this year toward Beaver Lake’s capital and also will contribute $10,750 for each year following through 2026.

The goal of these payments is to allow the authority to continue paying down the debt it inherited with Beaver Lake’s system while also putting funds aside for capital projects there without raising rates any further, Weigle said.

“This allows us to set money aside,” she said. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction for long-term sustainability of this system.”

Another agreement approved Wednesday will help Franklin Township in its endeavor to secure funding from the federal Department of Agriculture toward its ongoing Lairdsville sewer system project.

The agreement outlines the authority’s partnership with Franklin Township in the context of the project similarly to one approved in September, however in much more detail as required by the department, said John Bickhart, engineering services manager for the authority.

Over the course of the project, Franklin Township has contributed about $25,000 of its own funds. Supplying a more specific agreement may help the township not only receive more grant funding but also be reimbursed, at least in part, for what it already has spent, Bickhart said.

The department supplies funding in both grant and loan forms. Due to the service area’s average income, the project can qualify for up to 75 percent grant funding with a low interest rate on loaned funding, he said.

In addition to potential funding from the department, the township has secured Community Development Block Grant funding in the combined amount of approximately $1.1 million.

The project’s total cost is expected to be about $3 million and was one of the highest-priced options the township could choose, Bickhart said. But, thinking long term and considering the state of current systems, it was the right choice, he said.

“It takes a lot of courage to pick the highest-cost alternative based on things that have nothing to do with money,” Bickhart said. “They had to do with the ability to adjust to future system changes and requirements …”

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