Jefferson Township Delays Vote on Sewer Rate Hike

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JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP -- At a meeting Monday night, the Jefferson Township Sewer Authority decided to delay a vote on raising sewer rates in the community in Lackawanna County.

The Jefferson Township Sewer Authority says it needs to raise the monthly rate from $60 to $90 in order to make payments on loans that are currently in default.

One by one, residents who attended Monday night's meeting let the board members know how they felt about the job they were doing. Tempers flared as the board considered increasing the monthly sewer rates by 50 percent.

"We can't pay this in this size township, and that's why everybody's asking for your resignation," said one person in attendance.

The sewer authority says it's facing a $16 million debt, and without the increase, could be headed toward bankruptcy.

"If we do not have a rate increase, we are going to default on our loans with Pennvest and USDA, which we are in default right now as of July, August and we're going to default in September," said authority chairman Bill Nicolais.

The authority serves roughly 1,200 homes and businesses in the Mount Cobb area, which means two-thirds of the township's residents are not hooked up, including some on the authority.

In the end, the board put off making a decision until the next meeting, saying it will continue looking for revenue options.

"We're going to go after the delinquent accounts," Nicolais told the crowd. "We're going to streamline our operations to save money, but we're still going to have to have a rate increase."

The next meeting of the Jefferson Township Sewer Authority is Monday, September 16.