Heights weighs revenue options

Despite facing some costly infrastructure repairs, Ben Avon Heights officials have agreed not to raise the property tax millage rate in 2012, but may look at imposing a sewer surcharge.

The construction of a retaining wall on Briarcliff Road -- along with the associated engineering, easement and utility line movement costs -- could carry a price tag as high as $200,000, according to council president Mark Davis.

Engineer Robert Firek put the cost of constructing a new sanitary sewer system in the area of Biddeford and Stratford at about $177,000, and that is only the beginning of mandated sewer repairs.

Firek said that investigation of an odor in the Newgate Road/Wilson Drive area revealed that a utility pole had been installed right into a sanitary sewer line, the second time this has occurred in the Heights. Officials said that in years past, the borough had not provided for PA One-Call markings to identify the location of its utility lines.

The engineer said that the borough also will need to construct several sewer manholes in the area.

Officials noted that they generally budget at least $100,000 for capital improvements each year, but that will not cover the costly projects on the horizon.

The remainder of the necessary revenue could be obtained a couple different ways. The borough will be able to borrow about $500,000 in 2012, or council could join the vast majority of other Western Pennsylvania municipalities that already levy a surcharge that is added to quarterly sewage bills.

That surcharge could be a flat fee charged to the Heights’ 150 households -- minus the homes still connected to septic systems -- or it could be based on water usage.