New Castle News

Closer Look

October 11, 2013

Mahoning Township: Delinquent residents could lose water

NEW CASTLE — Mahoning Township residents who owe more than $500 in unpaid sewer bills could lose their water.

The township supervisors this week adopted an ordinance allowing them to contact the water company to discontinue water service to single-family dwellings where bills have gone unpaid for nine months or more.

Fewer than 100 township residents are expected to be affected.

Chairman Vito Yeropoli, who is also secretary/manager of the township sanitation treatment plant, said he is willing to work with residents who have limited income, financial problems and difficult times paying their $65 per month sewer bill.

However, he said, he will no longer try to work with people who just refuse to pay their bills.

Questioned by a resident, Yeropoli said the municipality will continue to place liens on properties of those who will not pay their bills, but once past-due bills reach $500, the township will contact the water company to shut off the water.

To restore service, he said, the resident must pay or make arrangements to pay overdue bills and pay a fee to the water company.

A resident asked if people without water might then decide to start using their well water again.

Yeropoli said some might do that.

“But after months or years of not being used, well pumps won’t work, and you’ll get bad water,” he said. “That’s why we got water lines in the first place — the bad water.”

The supervisors noted the township owes $9 million after installing public sewer lines. This debt must be paid off by sewer users.

The township is required to pay $32,000 per month just to repay the low-interest loans needed to construct the sewer lines and treatment facility. Additional expenses include chemicals, testing and administrative costs.

“It is rare for a small community like us have seven pump stations,” Yeropoli said, noting New Castle has only one pump station.

The high number is needed because of the hilly topography of Mahoning Township, engineer Greg DelPrincipe of RAR Engineering explained.

“This has to be done,” Yeropoli said of the shut-off ordinance.

Of the 100 residents with past-due bills, Yeropoli said, about 20 owe for one or two months, but some owe $800 to $900.

When some residents noted the aging population of the township, the supervisors said that is not the problem.

“Older people pay their bills,” Supervisor Gary Pezzuolo said. “It is the younger ones who don’t.”

He said when the head of a household is age 50 or more, the bill is paid. Problems come from those 20 to 40 years old.

They added sewer line construction is progressing and north Edinburg residents are expected to be added to the sewer lines by the end of the year.

Some residents have paid their $2,575 tap in fee, they said, and are already paying $65 per month sewer bills, even though they do not yet have service.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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