Water Rates on the Rise in Sandy Township

DUBOIS – Many people who live in Sandy Township will be thinking twice before turning on the faucet for a bath, to do the dishes or even for a glass of water.

The Sandy Township Municipal Authority approved a water rate increase that has the quarterly rate for residential customers nearly doubling.

For the first 9,000 gallons per quarter, residential customers were paying $59.75, but now that rate will rise to $107.28 per gallon. For each additional 1,000 gallons, the cost will be $11.92. That price is up from $6.35 for an additional 1,000 gallons. Commercial, industrial and institutional customers are also facing similar increases.

“It’s probably going to aggravate everybody in the room if they live in Sandy Township,” said Richard Castonguay, township manager during Monday’s meeting.

He said part of the reason behind the rate increase is a court-mandated $6.92 charge per 1,000 gallons used that goes to the city of DuBois. Also included is a debt service of $3.59 per 1,000 gallons.

The township is paying the city the $6.92 fee retroactively to Jan. 1, 2005.

“This has significantly impacted our ability to pay our bills,” Castonguay said, noting that payments to the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority for improvements to the system amount to nearly $34,000 per month. He also said that when the PENNVEST funding was granted, low-interest loans were awarded, but no grant funds were given.

Commercial customers will see their rates increase, as will industrial and institutional customers. Their rates were formerly $64.20 per 9,000 gallons with $6.90 for each additional 1,000 gallons within the quarter. Those rates will go to $107.28 per 9,000 gallons and $11.92 for each additional 1,000 gallons, the same rates imposed on residential customers.

“That is hard to swallow,” Castonguay said of the hike.

An additional $36.75 will also be added to each residential equivalent per quarter for maintenance.

Castonguay said the rates are based on a customer base of 1,395 customers (1,135 residential, 225 commercial, 24 industrial and 11 institutional). “As you add customers, it helps even out.”

Even with growth, it will take some time for customers to see their costs drop. “It takes a lot of customers to mellow this down,” Castonguay said.

Sandy Township Supervisor Chairman Brady LaBorde said the supervisors didn’t have a choice in giving the increase the go-ahead.

“It wasn’t a matter of whether we want to do it.”

There is some hope for change, Castonguay told the supervisors. If a court decision is made showing that Sandy Township owes less than $6.92 per 1,000 gallons used, rates could go back down.

The supervisors noted that while the maintenance fee is large, it is a necessary expense, amounting to more than just a drop in the bucket.

“If we don’t maintain, our grandkids will pay all this again,” said LaBorde.

GantDaily Editor’s note: Please see the correction to this story.

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