DUBOIS – On Monday night, Sandy Township Supervisor and Vice Chairman Dave Sylvis responded to recent statements made by DuBois City officials.
In June, council members and the city solicitor answered questions posed by a township resident on the sewer and water rates.
More specifically, the resident wanted answers in regards to the $9 per 1,000 gallons inflow and infiltration surcharge.
City officials not only challenged Sandy Township’s claims of being treated differently, but also suggested that consolidating the two municipalities into one would make some problems disappear.
Sylvis disagreed, saying that the long-term solution – consolidation – would not resolve any issues regarding the DuBois City and Sandy Township sewer systems.
“It has been tried three times, and if the people decide they want to try it again, it is [their] right to do so. But don’t be fooled. Consolidation would not change any of the problems with sewage rates,” said Sylvis.
He went so far as to say that it might even get worse without a checks and balance system in place.
Sylvis said he would prefer for system control to be turned over to a municipal authority, where DuBois City could remain the owner of its system.
“. . . [The] authority would assure all users of the system were billed and paying a fair rate to continue up-keep of [the] system,” he said.
While agreeing to sign the sewer use agreement, which City Solicitor Toni Cherry called a short-term solution, Sylvis pointed out that the last agreement was broken by DuBois City when it raised rates.
Sylvis also challenged Cherry’s claim that Sandy Township was paying a fair rate. He agreed that all city sewer customers, except Falls Creek, pay $9 per 1,000 gallons.
However, he said DuBois City is charging an additional $9 per 1,000 for inflow and infiltration, which is separate from the $9.50 surcharge that Sandy Township adds to the sewer bill.
While City Manager John Suplizio stated he doesn’t know why Sandy Township tacks fees onto the $9 base rate, Sylvis explained that these help with the township’s maintenance of sewer lines and infrastructure.
“The last time we went through this, we hired contractors who along with our crews checked out the system, and we – not the City of DuBois – went and borrowed I believe around $6 million to have our system repaired and brought up to standards,” said Sylvis.
Sylvis blamed DuBois City officials for not making an effort to reach across the table like the township. He also accused city officials of blocking the township from obtaining information from them.
“What are they trying to hide? So [far] as the statement that we would rather ‘litigate than negotiate,’ sometimes that’s the only option open to us,” said Sylvis.