Surcharge relief?

Although ALCOSAN has announced that sewage rates will increase a whopping 17 percent in 2014, Emsworth residents may get some relief from the borough sewer surcharge.

Surcharges were levied by most Western Pennsylvania municipalities several years ago to help pay for sewer line repairs and testing mandated by a federal court order.

Former council member Maria West asked if it was possible to reduce Emsworth's charge -- which is based on water usage -- because the borough has already completed the most expensive repairs. Council president Paul Getz said that the borough engineer is already looking at how much is needed to fund the required maintenance, and if the charge can be reduced.

"We may not be able to eat the entire 17 percent, but what we can eat will help our residents," Getz said.

Council approved a resolution adopting ALCOSAN's 2014 fees. According to solicitor Robert McTiernan, ALCOSAN can charge the higher rates even if council did not approve the resolution, but the legislation was necessary if the borough was to recoup delinquent fees from property owners.

Council also approved the acceptance of credit cards to pay sewer charges. Payers will be charged $3 for every $100 of payment made this way.