December 14, 2006
The Jackson Township Supervisors held their regular meeting at 8:00 a.m. at the Jackson Township Municipal Building. Members present were Supervisors Dave Bracken, Bob Stephens along with Secretary-Treasurer / Manager Dave Hirko and Solicitor Bill Barbin. The meeting was called to order by Dave Bracken.
Board Roll Call was taken with Supervisors Dave Bracken & Bob Stephens present. Supervisor Bruce Baker was absent.
Public Comments Concerning Agenda Items: (None)
Manager Hirko said, we received a letter from the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary. The letter reads, Dear Township Supervisors, The Jackson Twp. Vol. Fire Co. Auxiliary is currently trying to obtain a Pennsylvania Liquor License. The license is a club license which is very difficult to come by. The Jackson Twp. Vol. Fire Company wants to possess the license for possible future use but have no current plans. We are now seeking approval from the Supervisors in order to continue with the sale. Please if you will send a letter of approval. If you have any questions call George Straub. . . .thereís a phone number. . . .signed, Angela Shoemaker, Jackson Twp. Vol. Fire co. Auxiliary Secretary. Hirko continued saying, I talked with Tim Hofecker a little bit and the license theyíre trying to get is from a club in Johnstown. It is a special Club License. . . I guess they donít have any current plans but in the future, theyíre looking at maybe a Firemanís Club. Solicitor Barbin said, there are a fair number of Firemenís Clubs and they use it to raise funds for their organization. They might not really need that right now today but you never know. Chairman Bracken said, but if they miss a chance to get it, they may not be able to get it. Supervisor Stephens said, the question I have is about liability. Do we assume partial liability when we give them permission? Barbin answered, no. . .us giving them permission doesnít create liability now. We choose to carry them on our insurance right now. . we donít have to carry them on our insurance. Theyíre an independent organization. . technically theyíre a private corporation. Weíre responsible for their drivers. . .if they get into an accident and are liable, then we donít carry them on the insurance. If we have liability there. . . thereís never been a case but theoretically we might have some liability in their fire fighting or ambulance if there was big negligence, but definitely not on the liquor because theyíre not performing a governmental function. We have liability when theyíre performing governmental functions for us. Stephens said, I just wanted to make this a matter of record so that everybody understands. Weíre not assuming any liability. Barbin said, everyone Iíve heard of carries their own liquor insurance. Liquor insurance is not something for the Township to buy. Bracken said , they carry liquor insurance and theyíd had to send people to Pittsburgh to be trained as servers. They had to do that and really thatís the only way itís legal and thatís already been done. Barbin added, and you need to carry insurance. . . otherwise youíd risk losing the fire engines. Thereís a lot of bars that operate without insurance because they couldnít afford it. Hirko said, the reason they ask for the letter is that the P.L.C.B. requires it. The letter doesnít really obligate the Township in any way. . right? Bracken replied, no this is just a letter to approve it. Barbin said, no, we have no obligation. . . the Township could totally disengage itself from the Fire Company if they wanted to. . . when you did that you still have some responsibility for the drivers. . if they get into an accident, thereís some case law that says weíre still responsible for the drivers and we theoretically could have some responsibility in how they fight fires and how they respond to ambulance calls but thatís absolutely it if you chose to. Weíre a little closer. . .we choose to be closer to our Fire Company as a Township but you could choose to pull back if you felt like it. Bracken said, Lorain Borough did that once. Barbin added, well. . they had two fire companies in Lorain Borough at one time. Dick McDowell asked, would the club be considered a separate entity from the Fire Company or is that all one. Barbin replied, it would be smartest to make it a separate entity but it sounds like itís all one at this point. It sounds like what theyíre talking about is all one and itís done both ways in other places in the County. Cover Hill runs it through their Relief Association. The Relief Association actually owns the bar at Cover Hill, because thatís a ready-made independent organization. Ebensburg is owned right through the Fire Company. . the Fire Company owns theirs out-right. Bracken said, Vintondale too I think.
Other New Business:
Motion Stephens, second Bracken to appoint Renee Dickert to the Jackson Township Historical Preservation Committee. Vote-2 yes.
Motion Stephens, second Bracken to appoint Charlotte Blough to the Jackson Township Historical Preservation Committee. Vote-2 yes.
Motion Stephens, second Bracken to send letter of approval to Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary concerning their efforts to obtain a Club Liquor License. Vote-2 yes.
Rich Wray of Hegemann & Wray Engineers was present to discuss the Fords Corner Area Sewage Project. Wray said, a couple of years ago we had started to initiate activities to serve the Fordís Corner Road with sewage and to examine the feasibility of that particular effort. . . could it technically be done? Thereís several alternatives that were devised, put to paper, and a cost estimate generated. As you recall, the total cost estimate for Fords Corner Road was about 2 million dollars. That involved everything from Twin Rocks to new Route 22 so itís the entire service area involving at least one pumping station with that alternative and probably a siphon underneath Blacklick Creek with the remainder being gravity service. Inquiries were made with funding agencies such as R.U.S. and Pennvest. . both agencies expressed a desire to consider the project for funding. . .however, planning before the project needed to be initiated so that the regulatory agency involved could then be established and some form of local and then State review of the project were concurrent to the funding agencies. There has been some discussion about splitting the project. . half going to JETSA and half going to Blacklick and also that as well is feasible to do. . .the question here this morning is, do you want to initiate some form of planning effort with the PaDEP so we can start establishing what levels of funding are actually available so we can declare some monthly rates to the customers. The impasse from that right now. . . we canít really move anything forward for you until we do some sort of planning effort with the State. Solicitor Barbin said, to do the DEP planning though. . you really have to say which way they go. . right? Wray said, we would have alternatives analysis in the planning that would show. . exactly as Iíve described. . going towards Blacklick with everything or the split. They require alternatives analysis and thatís kind of where Iím at. Barbin asked, what is needed to go ahead with that planning? Wray answered, we need to prepare a Module E Package for the DEP for planning. That would have to run through your Planning Commission. In other words, we would prepare the package on behalf of the Supervisors as a Sewage Facilities Act Document. . Act 537 . . underneath that umbrella. It would half to go to your Planning Commission and come back to the Supervisors for ratification before it goes to DEP. Chairman Bracken asked, whatís the difference in the cost if we run it all to Blacklick or split it and run half to Jackson and half to Blacklick? Wray asked, capital costs? Bracken replied, yes. . capital costs. Wray said, thatís a very easy question to answer. . itís the cost of a forced man pumping station coming back to Blacklick. You would save that particular cost as you look at that piece of real estate from Twin Rocks to new 22 however, you still have to develop a gravity line from new 22 to JETSA. . . . capital cost wise, youíre a little more expensive on the gravity. . . long term operating cost, it is less. Barbin asked, how many pumps does it go through once it hits the JETSA system. Wray answered, . . at least two. The southern half of Fords Corner Road would just go to 22 and then back over to Twin Rocks . . then it would go through the siphon. Barbin said, and the planning would come up with costs. . . operations and maintenance cost. Wray said, a piece of Finntown is also in on this back to the top of the hill. We can gravity feed Finntown down hill. We have a pumping station shown at Twin Rocks mainly because that is the worst possible cost scenario, but weíre going to do a siphon under the stream. Barbin said, that makes a lot more sense. Dick McDowell asked, is there any thought on doing Loraine Road. Wray replied, yes. . it pretty much drops right off into Lorain so yes. . there is an alternative to this point. Bracken added, that would be gravity flow to Nanty Glo. McDowell said, I donít know if you have enough customers here to make it worthwhile. Why wouldnít that be included? Wray said, that one wouldnít go to Blacklick. Barbin said, that would go to Nanty Glo and Nanty Glo hasnít been in the discussion. That would be a separate planning effort. Wray said, just so you know, the Supervisors have recognized it and weíve done cost estimates and we know it will cost and it does work. McDowell said, it seems like a good one because itís all downhill and thereís no pumping station involved and you have it part way up. Barbin said, I think Nanty Gloís general concept is. . theyíll take anybody you want to take that wants to come in but theyíre not going to spend money to do it. McDowell said, they did recently get money to expand their station. Barbin said, theyíd be happy to take additional customers. . thereíd be no problem. Manager Hirko asked, would that complicate the financing. . even having two? Wray replied, yes. . mainly because your borrowers are different. A pumping station on 22. . on the north side. . I donít really like them. . . if I can get away with doing without a pumping station, Iíll do it. It really isnít necessarily a bad thing or evil thing. . you might find other uses for that station later on. It may aid you in ways that we canít identify today. Iíd rather provide gravity if I could but capital cost wise. . .itís actually a little more expensive to run the gravity into JETSA. Hirko asked, the fact that JETSAís already going for funding for Brazil / Cherrywood. . would that be held against them for a different project like this? Wray answered, no. . itís an independent exercise. Barbin asked, what is the cost of doing the planning? Wray said, probably two to three thousand dollars. Barbin added, net after the reimbursement from the State. . . it would be four to six but the State pays half of that. Supervisor Stephens asked, the two million dollars affects how many customers? Wray answered, 100. Stephens said, if I recall correctly, I think I talked to you at a previous meeting and you told us that it would cost each individual. . .each resident somewhere around approximately $50 to $55 a month. Wray said, thatís where we weíre looking at. Stephens said, understanding that at that time you told us also that this project would have to be independently financed and it wouldnít be able to be spread around. Wray said, thatís correct. Stephens said, another engineering firm get out and gave us a price as I recall $60 to $65 per month for each resident and from past experience we know that engineering firms have a tendency to be too conservative in their quote and realistically itís going to be $70 to $75 per month. Now itís my understanding that Richard Sutter & Associates get out and conducted a survey which has been documented and I ask the question whether that survey was done in the best possible interest of the people involved given the fact that not one of them were told what it was going to cost them. Wray said, I wasnít involved in that. Stephens said, and there were no guarantees. . so as I recall off the top of my head. . I believe it was 67 or 68% of the people according to Sutter were in favor of the sewage project. If in fact they knew it was going to cost $55 per month or $75 per month, would they be in favor? Next question is, is every one of those people going to be required, mandated by law, to connect. Wray answered, yes they are. Barbin said, to get financing on a sewer project you have to have a mandatory tap ordinance. The reason you didnít have to over on Dishong was because the Landfillís paying for the line. . . thereís no financing. . . but for the Federal Government. . .for Pennvest to finance, they wonít give you a penny without a mandatory tap ordinance. Stephens said, R.U.S. is a little different. . arenít they? Barbin answered, they have mandatory tap too. Stephens said, I always thought there was somewhat of a difference between R.U.S. & Pennvest. Wray said, not any more. . .the funding type. . yes. . the term of the loan, interest rates. Barbin said, R.U.S. can be cheaper with a 40 year loan . . cheaper payments. Itís a lot more money over the long run. Wray said, and theyíre revamping their funding structure as we speak. . . the terms of their loans, the rates. . .everything. . .the grant participation. . .everythingís being revised. Stephens said, before we get involved in spending a lot of money, we ought to get out and consider the people involved and make sure they are aware of what the cost is going to be for them personally and look at the collective groupís best interest. Wray said, as part of the planning effort you have to have a Public Hearing. Barbin added, and part of the planning effort is an analysis of the needs. . .are there a substantial number of failing sewage systems? Thatís one of the factors in funding. If thereís not at least 25% of them failing, you get the lowest priority and you go to the end of the line on the funding. They flat out donít turn you down, but if you donít have 25% of the systems failing and they do an inspection with DEP. . . they donít cite people but they do a sewage inspection. . .what does this look like. . . what are the soil types. They do an analysis of that and determine the kind of need. . thatís another part of planning. Hirko asked, isnít this though to just get concrete figures. . .this isnít saying okay to the project. Wray answered, thatís correct. This provides you with a technical bridge to get the funding. Barbin said, these are pre-conditions. Hirko said, youíll have more accurate figures through this. . .right now. . nobody knows. Wray said, as far as rates, no. . .after this that will give you the bridge or vehicle to get those funding packages. Barbin said, this study would provide a comparison of the cost for JETSA and the cost for Blacklick. Wray said, that would be part of their analysis. It kind of gets back to what Bobís asking for. . .the people need to know. . well this is the next step to get to know. Weíre kind of at a stalemate to get a better rate picture without this. I need some regulatory agencies to say yes and to say this is the way it should go. Youíre in a nice situation here where you have authorities on both sides of the fence that have capacity and conveyance capacity at Blacklick and they can take on the customers and so can JETSA apparently. That stuff is usually the hard part. . usually you have some problems with conveyance and treatment capacity and here you donít. This is a very nice position. Stephens said, they have some of those problems along the Route 22 corridor because Revloc has to upgrade their capacity which will facilitate being able to take any more. Barbin said, so what this involves is the Township is hiring Hedgeman & Wray to perform a Planning Module. . .heís telling us it can be done for a cost not to exceed $6000 and when the DEP approves the planning, we get half the money we spent on it back so itís a net cost not to exceed $3000. . . .careful though. . you spend $6000 first and then you get reimbursed so you know. Bracken said, one thing is the more you let it go, the more itís going to cost later. Wray said, Iíve never seen costs go down. Barbin added, and youíre not deciding on the project. This is supposed to be a fair and balanced analysis that comes up with estimates. . .comes up with different, alternative ways of doing it and some analysis of the need. . .what is the real need in the area so that you guys can make a final decision saying yes, we approve the project. . no, we donít approve the project but the planning is the first step to doing that. The DEP says you shouldnít make that decision until you do this analysis. It a little bit of what youíve been saying. Stephens said, so itís an economical feasibility study. Barbin said, yes. . with technical and environmental in a sense. . .if everybodyís on-lot systems are working, why are we even talking about this. If everythingís okay there and thereís no problems then maybe we donít need sewage there. Iíve never heard of a place in Cambria County where thatís true. Stephens said, the question comes up of what is the determining factor of what is working or what isnít. Itís my understanding that within the sewage community and JETSA one time speculated that 90% of the sewage systems in Jackson Township would malfunction if they were put through a pressure test. Barbin said, a flow test. . .a 24 hour flow test. Thereís some banks that require these long dye tests but some banks used to require that but if you did that. . everybodyís septic system anywhere is going to fail. Bracken said, I think itís in our best interest to go ahead and do the study, then youíll know. Motion Stephens, second Bracken to proceed with the study as proposed. The motion was opened up to public comment. Dick McDowell said, the longer you wait to do it, the more it cost and the longer you wait, the more people thatís going to be on there with malfunctioning systems. The systems that are already there. . .even if theyíre functioning now, they wonít be 10 years from now and itís going to cost more to do it 10 years from now than it will cost now. Stephens asked, how many people within the given area that weíre discussing can afford $75 a month if thatís what in fact it costs? Thatís what I think we have to consider. McDowell said, the restrictions on malfunctioning systems is getting tighter year by year. Are they going to be able to afford to move to some other place if they canít have sewage? Barbin added, if theyíre cited and it goes to the County Sewage Agency and theyíre ordered to put a replacement system in. $75 per month is a whole lot to many people. . no question about that but a new sand mound is even worse on somebodyís budget. Iíd rather have the monthly bill than have to put a brand new sand mound into place and that could be forced on them. Wray said, If you have a planning effort underway such as this one and thereís a problem, they soften their position significantly. In a way youíre looking out for them by at least initiating this. Barbin said, you have to admit that itís a good thing. Stephens said, we need to know what itís going to cost. Over in Mars in Butler County they estimated at $50 - $55 and it ended up costing $75 and they had quite a squawk over there. One of the things I think we need to consider from my perspective is that elected officials should be highly reluctant to ever put the constituents theyíre elected to represent in a position where they have to make a decision thatís contrary to what they want. When other governmental agencies such as sewage or DEP get out and get involved and make a decision, itís entirely different to what it is for a public official that is elected. Barbin said, the problem is the longer you wait, the more it will cost. Sewer systems that were done three years ago are paying $45 per month. . .sewer systems that were done seven years ago are paying $40 per month. . .now theyíre paying $50 - $55. . . and ten years from now theyíre going to be paying $60 - $65. Wray added, a lot of it depends upon the generosity of the Federal Government. . youíll start a project at a certain cost and sometimes you receive a benefit during the project that will help reduce rates. Itís more likely that the rates would go up during the course of development of the project. Stephens said, thereís no question about it that this happens time and time again. . .look at Brazil / Cherrywood where they were going to start out at 217 customers at 1.7 million and now itís at 3.7 million for 200 customers. Wray said, in the general industry, thatís what happened. Stephens said, the engineering firm involved failed to get out and advise us on every single aspect of what the cost was going to be. . in other words. . it was human failure somewhere along the line. Barbin added, I think they dragged their feet too. Stephens said, thereís no question about it. Wray said, the problem Iím trying to avoid here. . .the reason we went to this level of detail is so you can see it with your own eyes but on the other hand too, timeís slipping by here and costs are going up. Do you want to start the effort or not? Stephens said, if you canít afford it today and the costs go up, how can you afford more tomorrow and this is what the determining factor is. . can people afford it? Bracken asked, can the people afford to put a new sand mound in? Iíd say no. Barbin said youíre talking $15,000 and that works out to more than $75 per month. Tim Davis said, if youíre a younger person and thereís a lot in this Township, itís tough. Electric bills go up by the PUC, water bills go up by the Water Authority, sewer bills go up. . . everything is going up and where do they get this money from? Iíd rather buy a sand mound and pay the banker 10 years and then not have to worry about it. If Iím 40 years old and buy a house in the Township, I donít have to pay it the rest of my life. Barbin said, youíre saying, I canít afford it sometime in the future after 10 years. . I can afford more money now. The problem which is real is there are people on fixed incomes that donít have $75 extra dollars. Davis thereís a lot of people in this Township who are just trying to survive right now whether you realize it or not. Bracken said, I think itís probably be in our best interest to go ahead with this study. A vote was then taken on the motion. Vote-2 yes.
Other New Business:
Dick McDowell said, I can see where the area I pointed out would go to Nanty Glo which is not involved in what you just covered. I think those two areas should be studied also separately. I think because theyíre both gravity situations with no pumping stations and a fair amount of customers per feet of line, they should be reasonable to do from a cost standpoint. I know there are people over there that have complained to me that the neighborís sewage is coming down on them onto their property. Now, I can see your point about costing people money but if your neighbor uphill from you was dumping sewage down out onto your ground and making an unhealthy condition to your family and he donít want to put it in because he donít want to pay $75 a month, what would you do? Stephens said, I understand that. McDowell said, you have some of those situations there because some of the people on those roads have told me that they have sewage from a neighbors coming down on their property. Stephens said, about 3 Ĺ years ago I went to a Nanty Glo meeting and the thing that youíre mentioning here, I proposed and asked them to get out and talk to our Sewer Authority in Jackson Township about considering this in conjunction with the White Street Extension, Pergrim Hill. . anything with gravity flow coming into Nanty Glo. This should have been studied 3 Ĺ years ago from my perspective because it just made sense that this was the most cost effective way to get the cheapest sewage to the people involved because it was all gravity flow. Irregardless of who had authority over it, they needed to discuss this with the Township and that I was in favor of studying it at that time, so Iím in complete agreement on it. The fact about people having raw sewage affecting other people. . .perhaps our Zoning Ordinance might have a provision in it that theyíre responsible for anything that goes past the property line. Barbin said, in a legal sense, thereís probably some language that you could twist around in the Zoning Ordinance but Sewage Law covers it 100%. Thereís no question with the Sewage Facilities Law. . they make a complaint to Deb Sedlmeyer in Ebensburg. . .sheís got to come out and inspect it and report on it. She may give them some time. . that time may be a year. . year and a half because this is big money. Youíre talking big money when youíre talking correction of sewage but in the end, they have to be ordered to do something. Thereís no way out of it in the end. McDowell said, many of these systems like that were put in before there was any sewage regulations and some of them are terrible. Barbin said, yes. . some clay pipe with some rocks around it. McDowell asked, the people in Loraine town. . are they in any way billed for their sewage handled through our sewage. Do they pay here or are they strictly paying to Nanty Glo. Barbin said, theyíre 100% Nanty Glo customers. McDowell asked, how would that be handled. . .is that something thatís handled entirely through Nanty Glo? Barbin said, with Loraine. . .Larry Custer. . .itís low to moderate income. . . Larry Custer used the Community Development Block Grant money to build the line and turned it over to Nanty Glo. McDowell asked, what would Jackson have to do in order for that to be done? Barbin said, now that the Wagner Water Project looks like itís going to be taken care of and out of the way. . .if those two streets are low to moderate. . your first choice would be get Larry Custer to do a little sewer line project just on that street. . . both of them. . theyíd probably be done separate. Get him to do that with Community Development Block Grant money. McDowell asked, what kind of rates do they have? Barbin said, Nanty Glo is $25 per month. Thereís a rule. . never get mad because of somebody elseís good fortune. Davis said, I donít want anybody to misunderstand. . .sewage is a great thing. . .doing a project here in the Township is the best thing we did at affordable rates. What Iím concerned about is the economics here arenít like everybody believes. The utilities think we can just afford everything. . thereís a lot of people who struggle today but the point being. . .sewage is a good thing. Barbin said, in the long run you have to have it. Davis asked, isnít there funding that can assist lower income families. Barbin replied, for the tap connection, Farmers Home Loan has a program for elderly people and low income people. . they provide loans to low income people. . . .elderly low income people, they provide grants for to pay for the cost of connection but the monthly charge. . nobody helps with. Davis said, thatís where it gets to be a burden. . .in the future, sewage can go up every month. . water can go up. . at what point does a person not be able to make it anymore. Iíd hate to see a lot of our young people who are just staying here struggling until the economy picks up be able to say, I canít afford this and have to move out or older people who say, I canít keep my house no more. . . and it comes down to that. I know down in Conemaugh. . the pensioners. . when they buy one tank of fuel, their moneyís gone for the month. . . and down there the sewage bills are probably about the same as they are here but the point is, we still have a lot of people we have to be concerned about when these projects are done too. I agree sewage is a great project. Bracken said, I think all the municipalities struggle with this. . itís not just here. Davis said, everybody struggles and Iím glad youíre doing it now, but five years from now. . .what if it gets out of reach?
Chairman Bracken announced that The Board of Supervisors next scheduled meeting will be held on Thursday, December 28, 2006 at 7:00 pm at the Jackson Township Municipal Building.
Motion Stephens, second Bracken to adjourn the meeting at 8:48 a.m. Vote-2 yes.
David M. Hirko, Secretary