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State bulks are fully funding waste water pumping station

Richard D. L. Fulton

(10/9) While the sale of a wastewater treatment plant will go through as planned, a $252,000 shortfall associated with the sale remains unresolved and a half million dollars’ worth of project equipment sits idle. The shortfall is associated with the sale of the Orrtanna wastewater treatment plant to the Pennsylvania America Water Company, Hershey. Hamiltonban Township Solicitor, Matthew Battersby, told the supervisors at their October 7 meeting that how the more than $200,000 shortfall would be recouped remains to be seen.

The board of supervisors stated at their August 6, 2013 meeting that the township had decided to sell the problematic treatment facility and its associated infrastructure to the independent water company for more than $339,000, less the affiliated spray fields.

If the sale had not been proposed, the township was facing a tremendous expense in upgrading the facility to appease the demands of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), who had previously found the facility to be deficient and too old, and ordered that the facility had to be upgraded to current standards.

However, as part of the ridding itself of the treatment plant, an agreement was reached in which wastewater generated in Hamiltonban would be pumped to the Franklin Township facility, one that Pennsylvania America Water Company is also acquiring. This necessitated the construction of a pumping station and associated infrastructure in Hamiltonban that were approved for a state DEP $496,500 H2O grant.

To date, Battersby noted the township has only received $244,500 of the grant towards the money expended and is now balking at providing the township with the balance, stating the state did not feel the township was lawfully entitled to it. Township Board of Supervisors Chairman, Robert Gordon, told the News-Journal that the grant indicated it would provide two-thirds of the estimated $750,000 cost of the project which "qualified" for reimbursement.

"Now the argument we’re having now (with the DEP) is what qualifies as expenses," he said. "The state maintaining what we’re claiming (as expenses under the grant) is not acceptable and that they have paid us the amount is permitted under the grant."

In the meantime, Gordon said, there is $500,000 worth of project equipment "we have already purchased 500,000 sitting on township property." Regardless of the outcome concerning the questioned $252,000, the supervisor said that if the state cannot provide it within their guidelines, there may be other ways to recoup it. This could include just taking it as a loss from the settlement price of the Orrtanna plant.

"I hope the state will do the right thing (in reimbursing the outstanding $252,000)," Battersby said. "I wouldn’t (however) let this cloud the issue (sale)." The transfer of the property to the Pennsylvania America Water Company is slated for November 3, the attorney stated, when the deed and easement are to be signed in Harrisburg.

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