During New Milford Township’s (NMT) monthly meetings last fall I pressed for status of the Act 537 Needs Survey that was completed in July 2021. Although no status was provided this resulted in the NMT requesting a meeting with the LOC BoD to make decisions on:
- What entity will be responsible for constructing the system?
- Who will maintain and manage the sewage system?
- Who will be responsible for the collection of fees and administration of the system after it is constructed?
- The amount of the capital contribution by LOC.
- Identification of the ownership interest of the roads surrounding the lake.
Over the next several months I continued to state that those questions and decisions are the responsibility of the Municipal Authority for the Page Lake/Lakeside Communities Project and not the End User. Although the NMT contractor (Milnes Engineering) completed the house-to-house Needs Survey (July 5-8, 2021), they have not completed the required Needs Survey Report. This report is an essential part of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) ACT 537 process. During the NMT monthly meeting April 20, 2022 the Township informed me that they were withholding payments to Milnes Engineering due to non-performance.
The Township supervisors finally admitted they purpose of the meeting is to ensure that the BoD is totally behind the Page Lake/Lakeside Communities sewer project. During further discussion it became evident that the Township was having trouble with the entire Act 537 process. I suggested and the Township supervisors agreed that a meeting was necessary with all interested parties (NMT, NM Borough, New Milford Municipal Authority (NMMA), Hallstead Great Bend Joint Sewer Authority (HGBJSA) and LOC representative. Although we had this same meeting 4 years ago, I believe the Township now realizes the benefit of such a meeting and which of the attendees has the responsibility for the various parts of the project. As a result, I have the action to coordinate the meeting and am pressing forth to have the meeting soon.
As to the individual meeting with the LOC BoD and NMT, I will be coordinate this meeting soon.
I have also been in contact with PADEP and am encouraged with their support for the project.
As to schedule, once NMT submits their updated Act 53 and it is approved by PADEP, I believe it should be possible to start construction in late 2023.
As to the project cost and any LOC funding for the project and as I have stated before, the project cost estimate is in the range of $5.5M. As long as the project continues as a Municipal activity, the funding for the project will come from Grants, Loans and any private funding. If the project were to become a Private Sewer system, there would be no grants and any loans would be at a significantly higher interest rate. With any Municipal Sewer Project the end user pays for the project through loans and fees. In our case, any private funding we provide will ultimately reduce the value of the project loan. Any Grants and Loans would be obtained by the Municipal Authority and the loans along with Operation and Maintenance (O&M) and waste processing will be passed on to the ultimate User through monthly fees. Fees will be broken down into two categories: O&M and Waste Processing by HGBJSA plus the loan cost. The O&M cost covers the entire system maintenance along with the cost of the transmission though New Milford Borough and HGBJSA fees cover the cost of waste processing at the HGBJSA plant in Great Bend. As to seasonal cost, the O&M will continue to be billed but the waste processing by HGBJSA would not. The estimates three years ago were O&M $20/mo. and processing $30/mo. The loan with LOC contribution of $1.5 million was estimated at $50/mo. and the loan cost was based on Municipal loan rates at that time. With the increase of cost lately, I would suggest we plan to increase our contribution from $1.5m to $1.7 million. Please remember that any $ we contribute is a direct reduction of your induvial loan payments.
One point that came up at the meeting April 20 was that NMT does not want to be financially responsible for the system in case any end user defaults on their payments. We may have to set up an escrow account to cover this possibility and I’ll discuss this later with the BoD and report accordingly at the appropriate time.