COCHRANTON — Clifford Williamson says he can’t understand why the borough of Cochranton won’t work out a payment plan for him for fees to hook up to its new sewer system.

Christopher Youngs, the borough’s attorney said it’s a matter of fairness to all customes as well as having the money to operate the new system.

In revising its official sewage treatment plan with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in 2004, Cochranton agreed to consent order with DEP to install a sewage treatment plant by Dec. 31, 2009. Properties in the borough have had no municipal sewage system, just on-lot septic systems.

The $9.5 million system that’s been built will serve a population of approximately 1,100, and borough officials anticipate having about 650 paid connections to it.

Connecting to the system is costing residential property owners about $2,500 and they have to connect within 90 days of receiving notice from the borough. Notifications have started going out to customers.

It costs about $1,500 for lateral line construction to the system and another $1,060 to tap into it.

Williamson, who has lived in the borough the last few years, has been laid off from the tooling and machining industry since January. He’s been on and off work since, he said.

He did meet income guidelines to receive a $1,500 grant to pay for lateral line construction through Crawford County’s Community Development Block Grant-R funds, but only has half of the money for the tap-in fee.

By law, Community Development Block Grant money must be used to benefit low- and moderate-income persons.

He said has only has $500 on hand of the necessary $1,060 for the tap-in fee — getting $300 of what he has from Center for Family Services.

A veteran who is on disability, Williamson said he hasn’t been able to qualify for a low-cost U.S. Department of Agriculture loan or any other financing for the tap-in fee. Williamson said he’s not been able to get additional aid from any area social service agencies.

“I’m just hoping they’d be willing to reach a payment plan, but they won’t,” Williamson said of the borough.

Youngs, the borough’s attorney, said Cochranton is obligated under its own financing arrangements with the state to contribute $500,000 now in cash since the plant has started operations. That’s why the fees, he said.

The borough has a $7.5 million loan for the project from the state funding agency PENNVEST that it must pay back, too.

It can’t accept incremental payments as a practical matter, Youngs said.

“If we accepted a partial payment plan, the money would become incredibly spread out (over time),” he said. “If we did it, we would not have enough money to operate the system initially.”

It’s also a matter of fairness to all customers involved, Youngs said.

“If we do it for him other people would ask ‘Why not do it for me?’,” Youngs said of taking a payment plan. “The vast majority of customers have not had a problem. They knew this was coming. We have to insist on the money now.”



Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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