LAWRENCE COUNTY New Castle to vote on bonds for sewers

The work should begin later this year and last for about two years.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- It appears the city's crumbling sewage and storm-water infrastructure will get some much needed help.
City council members plan to vote Thursday to borrow $4 million, through the sale of bonds, to pay for some of the needed repairs.
Council members were at odds with Mayor Wayne Alexander on the issue earlier this year, saying they didn't want to borrow the full amount. Council had instead considered borrowing $2 million and doing only part of the project.
But the mayor said all of the work should be done. He noted that sewage rates for all city residents will increase to pay back any loan.
"How can I fix sewers on the south side or north hill and raise everyone's rates, but someone on the east side still has raw sewage coming in their basement?" he said.
Catch-basin repairs
Councilman Rob Ratkovich said he would go along with the plan as long as it included repairs to catch basins. The mayor said it would.
Councilmen John Russo and Will Quimby agreed the work needed to be done and putting it off would mean paying more for it in the future.
But Council President Christine Sands said she was hesitant because she was hoping there would be state funding to pay for the work. She referenced a recent state referendum putting aside $250 million for sewers in the state, but said state legislators are squabbling over whether to use the money to repair existing sewers or build new ones.
Rate increases
Tammi Gibson, city business administrator, said rate increases, used to pay back the loan, will go into effect in early 2005, Gibson said.
Council will vote on a proposal Thursday that would increase the minimum charge for sewer use by $2 per month, Gibson said. Residents are billed quarterly and the minimum charge is $16. It would become $22.
Work on the sewers should start later this year and last about two years, she said.
City engineers estimate work has not been done on the city sanitary system since the 1970s and work has never been done on the storm-sewer system, estimated to be about 100 years old.
There are an estimated 100 miles of sanitary-sewer lines and 2,000 sanitary manholes in the city.

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