JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP --- The battle over a looming sewer rate hike has come to a slight truce in one community in Lackawanna County.
Monday night, the Jefferson Township Sewer Authority said there will be no rate increase, until all cost saving options are explored.
These signs posted along Cortez Road here in Jefferson Township, demanding no increase sewer rates, seem to have done their job.
At the township`s Sewer Authority meeting, board members said the decision to raise rates will be put off indefinitely as they search for ways to cut costs first.
“We`re trying to work to save every cost we can not to raise the rates and if we have to raise the rates it will be very minimal,” said authority chairman Bill Nicolais.
The authority says it is $16 million in debt and had proposed raising rates from $60 a month to $90.
Now the board is looking into saving money by reducing electrical usage and applying for grant funding.
And it has begun cutting costs already by laying off its full time secretary.
“What I heard tonight I liked, they`re starting to cut costs and they haven`t done that, we`ve been begging them to do that for over a year and a half now,” said Bob McGee.
“It seems like the chairman`s got things under control and they`re working hard towards a solution,” said Lynn Desando.
Still some said it`s not enough.
“It`s a start, it`s a start,” said Matthew Pendrak. “I wish that all but too board members would resign, that`s what we need, we need an entirely new board.”
“It`s always great when you can do some efficiency studies, the problem is there`s still some sacred cows here,” said Greg Kapeluck.
The board also voted to start billing residents monthly, rather than quarterly.
Starting January 2014, residents will get a yearly coupon booklet with pay stubs to mail in with payments.
“It`s going to be a one mailing, coupon only, it will be mailed out in the beginning of the year, it will save us on postage, stuffing envelopes, etc.,” said Nicolais.
The board says it does still have to hire a secretary but that position will now be part time.