Why are Sewage Bills More Than Water Bills?

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McKeesport Citizen

Mckeesport, PA

#1 Jan 10, 2011
I would like to know why the citizens of McKeesport are paying more for sewage than for water? Wish some one would investigate why this occurs every month. Seem to be outrageous to me. Don't know why more people are not complaining. Ever tried calling The Municipal Authority of McKeesport? You will only receive a message. They tell you to leave a message but can't because it is full.
Gtr

Dravosburg, PA

#2 Jan 12, 2011
McKeesport Citizen wrote:
I would like to know why the citizens of McKeesport are paying more for sewage than for water? Wish some one would investigate why this occurs every month. Seem to be outrageous to me. Don't know why more people are not complaining. Ever tried calling The Municipal Authority of McKeesport? You will only receive a message. They tell you to leave a message but can't because it is full.
Many people do wonder about this very issue. I think on the surface, they are a McKeesport run company. That and the recent policy change voted on December 14 dealing with landlords paying billing.

With the financial concerns, that alone is one service McKeesport can modify. Many would rather pay a amount close to th water bill. I think it is one bill we may see other changes and increases occur in the near future.

Maybe going in person may yield better results? They are located on 2800 Walnut Street.

Glenn Rioux
left long ago

Cumberland, MD

#3 Jan 13, 2011
i have said it before go to city owned property and do your dumping and let them pay or move far away.................
Midnight Rider

Pittsburgh, PA

#4 Jan 14, 2011
This is a good question,maybe our mayor can answer it, he is or was the chairman of the authority.Maybe the rates will go down now that he has given up his paying job with them or is he still working.They gave the director a big raise a year ago and he's not living in our city.They have a solicter over there that needs replaced to , who keeps him there, council.

“Truth Will Set Us Free”

Since: May 08

Mckeesport

#5 Jan 15, 2011
Midnight Rider wrote:
This is a good question,maybe our mayor can answer it, he is or was the chairman of the authority.Maybe the rates will go down now that he has given up his paying job with them or is he still working.They gave the director a big raise a year ago and he's not living in our city.They have a solicter over there that needs replaced to , who keeps him there, council.
Shouldn't the Sewage Authority Board, where Mr. McCall resides answer these questions? Council has no control over the selection of Authority Solicitor. The Machine Four can't even get the solicitor position right with the city.
Gtr

Dravosburg, PA

#6 Jan 15, 2011
Midnight Rider wrote:
This is a good question,maybe our mayor can answer it, he is or was the chairman of the authority.Maybe the rates will go down now that he has given up his paying job with them or is he still working.They gave the director a big raise a year ago and he's not living in our city.They have a solicter over there that needs replaced to , who keeps him there, council.
If it was wrong to be chairman of places in Mvkeesport, verified by council according to the HRC. Someone needs to find out, check the Senator position rules, laws. If those are not in order and he still hold position on the record, it needs to be called on.

It is unusual knowing the current billing change must have his involvement as the former mayor.

I think Corbett should be contacted on the matters of citizen interest on the record.

Glenn Rioux
Gtr

Dravosburg, PA

#7 Jan 15, 2011
Sluggo wrote:
<quoted text>
Shouldn't the Sewage Authority Board, where Mr. McCall resides answer these questions? Council has no control over the selection of Authority Solicitor. The Machine Four can't even get the solicitor position right with the city.
If you cannot be on council and other position dealing with city at the same time, why are they?

Who is in charge able to take action.

Glenn Rioux

Since: Dec 10

Location hidden

#8 Jan 19, 2011
McKeesport Citizen wrote:
I would like to know why the citizens of McKeesport are paying more for sewage than for water? Wish some one would investigate why this occurs every month. Seem to be outrageous to me. Don't know why more people are not complaining. Ever tried calling The Municipal Authority of McKeesport? You will only receive a message. They tell you to leave a message but can't because it is full.
People ARE complaining, but a lot of it is not in the hands of the sewer authority.

The story is that the extra cost is added on charges to cover the upgrade and remodeling costs for the sewage plant and the sewer lines under the streets, under that federal act that made it MANADATORY. That money has to come from somewhere....makes sense that the people who use it should pay.

I am OK with that, as long as the costs go back down once the improvements are paid for.....THAT is what I am more leery about.....its easy to add taxes on to something....but to take them away? Good luck.

Since: Nov 10

Location hidden

#9 Jan 21, 2011
Shandago, your right. They can add them on, but removing them never seems to happen. Hell, I think my grandfather told me, that income tax was added to help ww2 costs. And they would be removed at the end of the war. Ummm, I think they forgot to remove that tax...LOL

“Truth Will Set Us Free”

Since: May 08

Mckeesport

#10 Jan 21, 2011
Shadango wrote:
<quoted text>
People ARE complaining, but a lot of it is not in the hands of the sewer authority.
The story is that the extra cost is added on charges to cover the upgrade and remodeling costs for the sewage plant and the sewer lines under the streets, under that federal act that made it MANADATORY. That money has to come from somewhere....makes sense that the people who use it should pay.
I am OK with that, as long as the costs go back down once the improvements are paid for.....THAT is what I am more leery about.....its easy to add taxes on to something....but to take them away? Good luck.
S.,

The sewage interceptors that were upgraded also handle sewage coming in from neighboring communities. The plant obviously handles their sewage as well. The law calls for "Uniform" rates for all customers. The outside communities need to be made to pay their fair share and the rates within the city should be adjusted downward so that we are all treated fairly. I have turned this issue over to the media and am awaiting response.

Paui
Troublemaker

Pittsburgh, PA

#11 Jan 21, 2011
Shadango wrote:
<quoted text>
People ARE complaining, but a lot of it is not in the hands of the sewer authority.
The story is that the extra cost is added on charges to cover the upgrade and remodeling costs for the sewage plant and the sewer lines under the streets, under that federal act that made it MANADATORY. That money has to come from somewhere....makes sense that the people who use it should pay.
I am OK with that, as long as the costs go back down once the improvements are paid for.....THAT is what I am more leery about.....its easy to add taxes on to something....but to take them away? Good luck.
The "story" is the beginning of the problem.

Aren't there usually numerous public notices, public hearings, and public document inspections well in advance when municipal improvements of this magnitude are undertaken? Uh huh, I'm laughing.

How many pockets are lined and for how long? Did I just type something wrong?

When it's "finished", how long will it be before "there's a problem that needs to be fixed" and we're paying again?

THAT'S the problem with this fiasco.

And since City Hall is forever crying about being so financially destitute, which of these city fathers went to the state and federal departments -- with the help of state and federal elected officials -- to plead our case and ask for some consideration because you can't get money from an ever-decreasing population?

I'll wait for an intelligent response.

Since: Dec 10

Location hidden

#12 Jan 21, 2011
Repub wrote:
Shandago, your right. They can add them on, but removing them never seems to happen. Hell, I think my grandfather told me, that income tax was added to help ww2 costs. And they would be removed at the end of the war. Ummm, I think they forgot to remove that tax...LOL
City of Pgh enacted a HUGE tax increase on parking some years back...over 5 I think......and it was suposed to come off when the budget was balanced again...

yeah, well, so much for that.

Something like 50% of the parking rates in Pgh is taxes.

Since: Dec 10

Location hidden

#13 Jan 21, 2011
Sluggo wrote:
<quoted text>
S.,
The sewage interceptors that were upgraded also handle sewage coming in from neighboring communities. The plant obviously handles their sewage as well. The law calls for "Uniform" rates for all customers.
Paui
Thats really nitpicking IMHO.

Do the "other communities" benefit some from the new equipment in the plant? Sure....but from what I understand part of the reason this is done is to make "revenue" for the sewage authority which in turn reduces the costs for everyone overall....

I see what you are saying and it doesnt seem "fair", but it is probably equitable in the end.

Be interesting to see what the media will do.....none of this stuff is hush-hush....its all public record...and it has been in place now for a time...seems like if there really were a legal issue here it would have been brought out by now.....

Since: Dec 10

Location hidden

#14 Jan 21, 2011
Troublemaker wrote:
<quoted text>
The "story" is the beginning of the problem.
Aren't there usually numerous public notices, public hearings, and public document inspections well in advance when municipal improvements of this magnitude are undertaken? Uh huh, I'm laughing.
How many pockets are lined and for how long? Did I just type something wrong?
When it's "finished", how long will it be before "there's a problem that needs to be fixed" and we're paying again?
THAT'S the problem with this fiasco.
And since City Hall is forever crying about being so financially destitute, which of these city fathers went to the state and federal departments -- with the help of state and federal elected officials -- to plead our case and ask for some consideration because you can't get money from an ever-decreasing population?
I'll wait for an intelligent response.
Well, I agree that the charges may not come down easily once the upgrades are paid for....but THAT would be something worth taking to the media and pursuing.....

The key would be to look at the records (public records) to see what the upgrades cost and then look each year to see how they have been paid down....

But, much like in the Pgh parking tax example, it will just be "gotten used to" and go on....UNLESS people make a stink (sorry for the pun there....sewage...stink....lol )

Not sure...did "they" ever state when they thought the improvements would be paid off in theory?

“Truth Will Set Us Free”

Since: May 08

Mckeesport

#15 Jan 21, 2011
Shadango wrote:
<quoted text>
Thats really nitpicking IMHO.
Do the "other communities" benefit some from the new equipment in the plant? Sure....but from what I understand part of the reason this is done is to make "revenue" for the sewage authority which in turn reduces the costs for everyone overall....
I see what you are saying and it doesnt seem "fair", but it is probably equitable in the end.
Be interesting to see what the media will do.....none of this stuff is hush-hush....its all public record...and it has been in place now for a time...seems like if there really were a legal issue here it would have been brought out by now.....
I agree it should have surfaced. better yet, the disparate rate schedule should never have been proposed or implemented. That problem is that until some citizen calls in an complains, the powers that be make their own rules. If I am wrong on this issue, i will admit it. I don't think I am.
CitizenV

London, OH

#16 Jan 21, 2011
Sluggo, have you asked your friend, the Mayor these questions? He's on that authority or he was, correct? You call Rege and get the answers then you let us know what he said OK? Thanks.
Just Sayin

Mckeesport, PA

#17 Jan 21, 2011
Everyone's sewage bills are so high because the authority had to bail Brewster and his reckless spending out so many times.

Since: Dec 10

Location hidden

#18 Jan 25, 2011
A old neighbor from when I lived up around Grandview and I got to talking about this and he said he was going to contact the DEP since they are the ones who issued the sewage updates.

Here is his letter:

********
Hello

I am a resident of McKeesport, PA and have a few questions about the Act 537 changes we have seen in our area.

In order to cover the costs if the required upgrades to our city's waste treatment plant, our municipal authority has raised our sewage rates by something like 2 or 3 fold.

I do understand that the improvements are mandated and have to be paid for.

That said, when the fees will be reduced again? Does our municipal authority plan to lower the rates again once the improvements are paid for?

Also, our municipal authority handles wastewater for other communities as well, but McKeesport residents are being charged more per gallon treated than they are. Why is this?

Is the Act 537 Plan for our city, including budget information as far as when the project will be paid for, public record? Shouldn't this be a transparent sort of thing so that residents can get some idea of when we can expect rates to go back to normal?

Can you help?

I cannot seem answers to these questions from the McKeesport municipal authority.
**********

The response he got back from the DEP:

**********
Sir,

I received your letter from my colleague in Harrisburg, John Repetz, and wanted to let you know that Im working to find the best person here in the Southwest region with whom you can talk about this upgrades, cost, future plans, etc. Im not certain that will be today, but I wanted to be sure you know weve got your message in-hand and will get back in touch with you as soon as possible.
**********

Sounded promising.

Then he got this a few days later:

**********
I spoke with my colleague about your questions and he said that, while he could provide some general answers, you were right to first go to the Authority because they can offer more detailed answers. Some of these things depend on the service agreements between municipalities, of which DEP has no knowledge. If the Authority is not providing you with the information you need, my colleague suggests approaching City Council.

Please let me know if you have any luck with that route.
**********

So, basically, its not up to the DEP at all apparently? Shouldn't they have some idea as far as how people are paying for their mandates?

This is why big government is a bad idea!

Has anyone ever stood up at a council meeting to ask this question..."when will our sewage rates go back down?" ??
Gtr

Pittsburgh, PA

#19 Jan 25, 2011
Never, and you can expect talking down to you as they did the last business. I was there and seemed the two business colleagues had to do a dance figuratively.

I appreciate people like you and your friend because you make a attempt to get answers citizens need. It's business as usual, give you hope, pass the buck, disclaim any of the knowledge to answer citizens accurately.

The law was used as a excuse to attempt to hurt some people. Council more than likely say they will have to get back to you. More likely as with others, they will not or divert responsibility with generalizations.

Fact is they cannot refuse payments from anyone as for the pay change. The money lowered will be a pass the buck issue simply to refuse the answer of no. It's basically a game played, business as usual. They DEP is unaware of enforcing the law they have used as reason for the changes. You should call investigative news, they may help as you and your friend are getting the runaround sadly enough.

Asking council to get answers may leave citizens asking you later, "how is that working out for you." The clue is, that term insinuated question is mainly sarcastically stated in most instances.

I'm with you all the way in efforts to learn, fact finding. Not enough people press for accountability, the monetary cost I think will not go down, but be raised more likely.

The extra dollar for a copy to some is the same as a hidden fee tactic.

Glenn Rioux
Troublemaker

Pittsburgh, PA

#20 Jan 25, 2011
Shadango wrote:
A old neighbor from when I lived up around Grandview and I got to talking about this and he said he was going to contact the DEP since they are the ones who issued the sewage updates.
Here is his letter:
********
Hello
I am a resident of McKeesport, PA and have a few questions about the Act 537 changes we have seen in our area.
In order to cover the costs if the required upgrades to our city's waste treatment plant, our municipal authority has raised our sewage rates by something like 2 or 3 fold.
I do understand that the improvements are mandated and have to be paid for.
That said, when the fees will be reduced again? Does our municipal authority plan to lower the rates again once the improvements are paid for?
Also, our municipal authority handles wastewater for other communities as well, but McKeesport residents are being charged more per gallon treated than they are. Why is this?
Is the Act 537 Plan for our city, including budget information as far as when the project will be paid for, public record? Shouldn't this be a transparent sort of thing so that residents can get some idea of when we can expect rates to go back to normal?
Can you help?
I cannot seem answers to these questions from the McKeesport municipal authority.
**********
The response he got back from the DEP:
**********
Sir,
I received your letter from my colleague in Harrisburg, John Repetz, and wanted to let you know that Im working to find the best person here in the Southwest region with whom you can talk about this upgrades, cost, future plans, etc. Im not certain that will be today, but I wanted to be sure you know weve got your message in-hand and will get back in touch with you as soon as possible.
**********
Sounded promising.
Then he got this a few days later:
**********
I spoke with my colleague about your questions and he said that, while he could provide some general answers, you were right to first go to the Authority because they can offer more detailed answers. Some of these things depend on the service agreements between municipalities, of which DEP has no knowledge. If the Authority is not providing you with the information you need, my colleague suggests approaching City Council.
Please let me know if you have any luck with that route.
**********
So, basically, its not up to the DEP at all apparently? Shouldn't they have some idea as far as how people are paying for their mandates?
This is why big government is a bad idea!
Has anyone ever stood up at a council meeting to ask this question..."when will our sewage rates go back down?" ??
Did you expect any other response?

Don't want to get off the point, but saying this is why big government is a bad idea makes no sense. The problem here is that a state oversight department is not the advocate watchdog it should be. What's so wrong about having a larger organization making sure the smaller ones do what they're supposed to do, especially in a situation like this!?!

Your neighbor should immediately write back and tell them the letter was prompted by the lack of information at all local levels. Then see what happens.

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