On 12/11 Council enacted a budget and a property tax resolution for 2020. Millage will be held at 14.3 mils. Our debt continues to be paid down aggressively and we have sufficient reserves to handle contingencies that might arise. Another tax decrease will be considered next fall, for 2021.
Via eminent domain the Borough has acquired the necessary property to protect Well 99's Wellhead Protection Zone 1 to DEP's satisfaction, resolving a Notice of Violation we received back in 2015.
DEP continues to pressure the Borough to treat our water to remove high levels on iron and manganese. Though not a health issue, iron and manganese are 'nuisance' contaminants of well water in coal-country. A few years back we had to prophylactically add high levels of chlorine to our drinking water to meet new DEP criteria. The chlorine adds odor/taste and oxidizes the iron and manganese (to "rust") which stains fixtures and clothes. Folks complained and DEP has asked us to fix it by adding treatment/filtration. Our engineers (Gibson-Thomas from Latrobe) have arrived at a plan which will does this, and also adds a number of other improvements. The most notable plus will be returning Well 18B (near Wenatchee Park) to active use, providing redundancy and extra capacity.
Concurrent with this effort we will implement an ongoing plan to add a second tank alongside the Cherry Lane tank. This helps in many ways, most notably in capacity and redundancy, and will be done in such a way that we will no longer be required to use divers or go through hoops to do routine inspections or maintenance on all our tanks.
The estimated cost to do all of this is around $1.3 Million. This will likely be paid for by a low interest loan, increasing water fees by less than $10 per month, and repayment over 20-25 years beginning 2021. Water rates will remain the same for 2020.
As a segway, the above water treatment plant also does NOT require flushing our filter back-wash/effluent into the Shanksville Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). This was a concern with earlier proposals. That is a good thing because we do not yet have an agreement or 'approved' plan to send anything to the Shanksville STP.
We paid $100,000 in 2016 to have an upgraded line running from the Borough through Stonycreek Township to the Shanksville STP but talks to actually begin using that line have stalled somewhat. No known issues, just little progress. The first use of this line is anticipated to be for the collection/transport of pre-treated effluent from new on-lot treatment plants, referred to as SFTF/HT (Small Flow Treatment Facilities/Holding Tank). There are a dozen or more of these types of on-lot plants approved/approvable for use, which provide attractive cost-effective alternates to sand-mounds, and can be used in cases where a lot does not 'perc' for any conventional system. Any lot in the Borough is a candidate for one these new systems. Several were approved this past year.
The Borough, in conjunction with our SEO (CME Engineering), Musser Engineering, Musser Sewage Specialists and numerous other firms, is engaging DEP on advance Sewage Planning approval such that approvals of permits for these systems can be obtained quickly; weeks or a few months vs a year or more. DEP has been very cooperative.
These SFTF/HT systems are not reliant on the line to the Shanksville STP, but using the Shanksville line will make it easier and less costly.
Indian Lake Drive
Indian Lake Drive, the entrance road off Route 30 with the arched steel sign, was initially built as an 'extension' to Peninsula Drive, and was early on referred to as the Peninsula Drive Extension. At some point it became Indian Lake Drive and since has been a source of confusion with Indian Drive, the road by the Comcast building not far from the blinker and The Alley. In the past couple of years there have been a number of complaints, or rumored complaints, that the confusion has delayed the response of Emergency Responders (fire and ambulance). Council has voted to resolve this confusion and the roadway will be renamed, officially, Peninsula Drive. Peninsula Drive would thus extend from Entrance Drive/South Shore Trail, around the peninsula, past North Shore Trail, and all the way out to Route 30. The effective date will be announced once it is all official.
At the last Council Meeting we bid an emotional adieu to Patti Dewar after 20 years of very engaged service, including a term as Council President. Terry St.Clair will also be leaving Council, after 22 years service, to once again retire, but he was in Myrtle Beach, practicing the retirement thing. Terry also served as a past Council President. In November, Kim Yantus and Paul Balint were elected to the vacated positions, and Lynn Shimer was re-elected for another term. Please join us in welcoming Kim and Paul, and thank them for stepping up if you see them out-and-about.
We wish all Borough Residents and Employees a happy and safe holiday season. We hope 2020 brings us all continued success and progress.