Water rate increase predicted

PAT FRIDGEN

From a preliminary look at budget figures, the Antrim Township Municipal Authority sees no choice but to raise rates for its water customers in 2010.  Based on the ebb and flow in 2009, it projects an income next year of $218,000 but expenses of $230,000. It could have been worse. Bob Coladonato pointed out Oct. 26 that personnel expenses were down $38,000 from 2008, which softened the blow.

The hit for income came from the lack of tap fees and new construction. Bob Schemmerling wanted to take those numbers out of the equation as the authority balances its operations and maintenance budget each year. "Our expenses are as austere as can be, but the gap between income and expenses must be closed."

From his calculations, Coladonato said a 5.6 percent increase in water rates was necessary.

Higher fees for electricity and insurance were seen for the new year, and ATMA didn't expect the housing market to pick up significantly to generate additional revenue. The board will vote on the preliminary budget in November and pass the final version in December.

In other business at the monthly meeting, ATMA members agreed to seek Requests For Qualifications for solicitor and engineer. Schemmerling suggested that rather than put out a general advertisement, Antrim administrator Brad Graham ask the five members individually for specific names and then contact those people or firms to submit RFQs.

Solicitor Shawn Meyers updated the board on the ownership of a sewer line running from Greencastle Greens to a point near the lift station by Talhelm's Gas. Washington Farms contended the line belonged to it and that no developers could connect without permission. Attorney Paul Schemel had brought the matter to ATMA's attention in July.

Meyers believed the line belonged to whoever installed it, and that had yet to be determined. He did know one thing. "We don't own that line, I can tell you that."

From his research of titles at the Franklin County Courthouse, Meyers said in reality the only section of sewer line ATMA owned around the golf course was Phase 2C. It did have rights-of-way for other lots. He didn't know why the authority never received the deeds of the sewer lines. If ATMA was to continue to maintain the lines, it needed to own them, which was not difficult to do, he said. He would prepare the paperwork, and also require the pipes be inspected and "as-built" plans submitted to the township. Meyers would consult with Schemel and Dan Sheedy, the developer of the Greens.