Greencastle Area water customers slip in under the deadline

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Connection fees for Greencastle Area Franklin County Water Authority water went up Tuesday, following the adoption of a resolution July 21. Board members Jason Gerhart, Bob Miller, Rodney Rose, Greg Rock and Bud O’Mara set tapping fees at the actual cost for service.

The numbers had been determined by Gannett Fleming in a capital charges study. The engineering firm updated the last study, conducted in 2005. The current information reflected abandoned and replaced facilities, and matched facility costs to today’s values, said Susan Armstrong, GAFCWA manager.

Eight customers submitted applications for water service at the old rate, which were approved Monday, though three did not have immediate plans to build. GAFCWA solicitor Jan Sulcove said the loophole would not harm GAFCWA, but it should take steps to avoid more concern in the future.

Customers, particularly those in the Hess Development, had been notified that the rates would increase, and they could complete terms of an agreement to connect by applying prior to the July meeting. However, three developers in other areas of town took advantage of the rates, too.

The standards did not specify when customers had to connect after they paid the tapping fees, Sulcove said.

“Our intent was they pay the fees in place at the time they connect, but we didn’t put it into the rules and regulations,” he said. “That was something we overlooked, so I recommend we accept these applications, but change the rules to prevent a recurrence.”

Armstrong said the number of applications was positive, though, and perhaps indicated the economy was turning around.

The eight applicants paid capacity fees of $2,655, which went up to $4,448 the next day.

The new fee structure entailed many points based on service line size and system requirements, but three would affect most property owners, said Armstrong. The other two were distribution, which rose from $2,470 to $3,687; and connection, which rose from $880 to $1,389.

Armstrong informed the board that the water main upgrade on Franklin Street would begin on Aug. 4, with the crew working from the west to the east. The street would remain open. She was grateful to Greencastle Church of the Brethren for its assistance with parking during the summer street repair project, which had several phases.