UNION TOWNSHIP Trustees set hearings to form property code

Officials explained a sewer rate increase that went into effect earlier this year.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Two hearings have been set for next month on the first Union Township property maintenance code, which will govern the way residents must maintain their property, both inside and out.
Trustees announced at their meeting Tuesday that the hearings are set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 and 27, both at the township building. The Sept. 27 hearing will be followed at 7 p.m. by a regular trustees meeting at which adoption of the code, the first of its kind, is expected to take place.
Richard Christofer, administrator of the New Castle Sanitation Authority, said the sewer rate increase the authority enacted in March was prompted by a $320,000 cut in state funding. He noted that the authority charges residents of all the municipalities the same rate. Rates paid by residents differ by municipality because each adds its own "travel charge" onto bills for its residents.
Actual rates
In Union Township, rates for minimum usage went from $53 to $70 a quarter. The breakdown shows that the Sanitation Authority minimum rose from $28 to 35.61, and the township's portion rose from $25.50 to $34.39.
Questions were also raised about how Union Township calculated its increases, which raise the township's part of the increase for minimum users by $9.90 per month.
According to Carmen Merolillo, Union Township Sewer Authority member, the increase was calculated on the estimated cost of hiring two secretaries to do billing, which is now going to done in-house. Because the increase was based on estimates, it will be reviewed after one year, when actual costs are known, he said.
Other business
In other action, trustees:
UAccepted the low bid of Protech Asphalt Maintenance for $29,195 to pave the Maple Heights development on Winter Road. Other bids included Dunbar Asphalt, $39,746; and Robert Retort Sr. Paving and Sealing, $76,942. All three bidders were from New Castle. The bid acceptance was contingent on review by the engineer.
UAccepted a 2005 Community Development Block Grant of $122,958, about the same amount as received last year. It will again be used for housing rehabilitation and demolition, officials said.
UAgreed to ask the state for money to add a left-turn signal to the traffic light on U.S. Route 224 and Scotland Lane.
UGave permission to the New Castle Horseshoe Club to hold its 2007 tournament at Scotland Meadows Park and for the New Castle Regional Soap Box Derby Association to use Municipal Drive and the parking lots for their annual fall rally Sept. 10 and 11. Municipal Drive will be closed Friday through Sunday for the rally.
UAgreed to cooperate with Mahoning and Pulaski townships to develop a regional comprehensive plan for Northwest Lawrence County. The plan will include land development, conservation, growth and redevelopment and will not cost the township anything.

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