New Castle News

February 17, 2014

Shenango readies legislation for sewer sale

Mary Grzebieniak
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Shenango Township is preparing to sell its sanitary sewer system, although supervisors say a sale isn’t certain yet.

At their meeting Thursday, the township supervisors unanimously authorized solicitor Lou Perrotta to prepare an ordinance outlining sale of the sewers to the New Castle Sanitation Authority.

The ordinance, according to Secretary-Treasurer Brian Tanner, allows the township to negotiate. He said a final decision has not been made, but there is the “premise of a sale.” He added that “significant information” has yet to be collected, including easements and user records.

Supervisors declined to say what their experts have valued the system at, or what the New Castle Sanitation Authority is offering.

Tanner did say, though, that there will be a meeting for public input before any action is taken. The hearing date will be announced.

New Castle Sanitation Authority Director Richard Christofer and the authority’s independent accountant, Deno DeLorenzo, attended a public meeting in December. They explained that they would like to purchase the system because the more customers the authority has, the easier it is to obtain state grants and  loans and to cushion rate increases.

Shenango, which has 1,500 customers and makes about $140,000 profit annually from the system, already sends its sewage to the authority for treatment. A sale would free the township from any future liability or the responsibility for extending sewers.

Union Township recently agreed to sell its sewer system to the sanitation authority.

Prior to the meeting, supervisors held a required hearing on a real estate tax abatement for new businesses. Afterward, they directed Perrotta to draft an ordinance for the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act to be adopted at the March 13 meeting. The ordinance also will be advertised prior to its adoption.

The ordinance, which mirrors one already adopted by the county, provides a five-year tax abatement to new businesses. The abatement starts at 100 percent and drops by 20 percent each year until the fifth year, when the abatement would be 20 percent. After that, the business would pay full property taxes.

Two representatives of the Shenango Area School District, Superintendent Dr. Michael Schreck and school board member Sam Biasucci, attended the meeting and indicated they have no objections to the tax abatement.

In other business, supervisors agreed to accept ownership of the former South Hill Athletic Association in the 2220 block of Martha Street. The current owners have informed supervisors they can no longer keep it going. The deed, according to Tanner, requires the property to revert to the township if it can no longer be operated. It consists of a social hall, an athletic field and a playground. Supervisors said they intend to use it for the public. The deed is in the process of being transferred.

Supervisors also learned the Federal Emergency Management Association and the state will give the township approximately $387,000 for road and other infrastructure damage from the July 10, 2013 flooding. Public Works Supervisor John Krueger said some of the work already has been done and will be reimbursed. He is waiting to hear when the money will be coming.

Township residents were eligible for 2 percent loans for damage they suffered in that storm.