Athens Twp. supervisors allocate Act 13 funds
Athens Township supervisors Wednesday approved the allocation of $410,488 in Act 13 funds received for 2013.
Supervisors agreed Wednesday to divide the funds between road improvements, a new township vehicle, and contributions to township services in addition to two allocations approved in July - $50,000 toward improvements to the Herrick Avenue municipal building and $30,000 to the Athens Township Volunteer Fire Company.
Supervisors Wednesday voted 3-1 - with Ron Reagan opposed and Cheryl Wood-Walter absent - to give $50,000 to the Athens Township Authority, which will use the money to offset sewer rate increases associated with a necessary $4.5 million sewer capacity upgrade.
The contribution will allow the authority to keep sewer rates flat next year and only raised them by $30 to $40 in 2015, about half of the proposed increase prior to receiving the funds, said authority chair Patrick Musto.
The sewer system, which is at or very near capacity in several areas, has seen the most impact from the rise of the natural gas industry, Musto told supervisors Wednesday. Construction of the Chesapeake Energy complex, several hotels and other gas-related development has put a strain on the system.
"We were directly impacted by this," Musto said. "We had a perfect system that we had to dramatically change."
Eighty percent of township residents utilize the sewer system, and the contribution is "a nice way to give some of this money back, in a sense," Musto said.
Supervisor Jack Walter also pointed out that the sewer upgrade will allow development in the township to continue, increasing the township's tax revenue.
Supervisors also agreed to set aside $30,000 for a new vehicle for the township's zoning officers, which will be combined with $15,000 set aside for the same purpose in 2012. The current vehicle frequently needs repairs and has been overdue for replacement for "a few years," Reagan said.
Supervisors approved a payment of $7,342 from Act 13 funds to Greater Valley EMS, which seeks contributions from each municipality in its primary service area to replace its mobile air compressor station. The station fills firefighters' air tanks while on emergency calls.
Supervisors also ratified a payment of $2,632.78 to be added toward the purchase of two new police vehicles made with last year's Act 13 funds and agreed to use $31,590.95 to make the final payment on the municipal building's recently replaced roof.
The remaining funds - about $211,000 - will be placed in a capital reserve account to be used for road improvements in the future. Under the motion made Wednesday, supervisors will need to approve each project before the funds are spent.
The township received about $60,000 less in this year's impact fee payment than in 2012, said secretary Robin Smith.
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.