Cranberry Twp. water bills going up next year

Fee will go toward stormwater mandates

November 8, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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CRANBERRY TWP — Beginning in 2020, property owners across the township will see a bump in their water bills.

At Thursday night's meeting, the board of supervisors approved a fee that will be imposed on all properties within the municipality to fund the stormwater management program.

Beginning in January, each residential property will be assessed $3 per month, increasing to $6 per month in 2021 and beyond, to pay for the infrastructure and operating expenses associated with federal and state mandates.

Federal and state requirements imposed on Cranberry are aimed at reducing sedimentation and pollution in nearby bodies of water.

Nonresidential properties will be charged based on the amount of nonporous surface on the lot as it compares to the amount on an average residential lot, called an equivalent residential unit (ERU).

Jason Kratsas, the township's director of engineering and environmental services, said nonresidential properties range from one ERU to more than 700 equivalent units.

The board's passage of the fee came as Boy Scout Troop 404 was in attendance to learn about the inner mechanisms of local government.

While the board unanimously passed the ordinance, there was some dissent from residents in attendance.

Stuart Hammerschmidt, who voiced displeasure with the fee at the board's Oct. 30 agenda-setting meeting, reiterated his concerns Thursday.

“The stormwater plan only penalizes the homeowners and businesses who are in compliance with the Clean Water Act,” he said. “I don't think I should be wrapped in with everybody else who is not in compliance.”

Hammerschmidt previously proposed those who already take steps to mitigate their stormwater runoff should be charged a lower fee. Chairman Dick Hadley said he agrees this is an unfair mandate by higher levels of government, but added Pennsylvania law prohibits the municipality from charging non-uniform taxes or fees.

“It's a program that I'm not real happy about ... because it's an unfair program that treats different municipalities differently,” he said.

Hadley said the idea that properties should be charged different rates because they use detention ponds is a misrepresentation of the fee's purpose. The fee will fund upgrades to the township's stormwater sewage system, which is separate from its sanitary sewage system.

The chairman likened the fee to property taxes, where everybody pays an equal rate, regardless of the number of children they may have in school or whether nearby roads are township- or HOA-owned.

“I think staff has done a great job trying to get us to the point where we're all going to suffer equally under the program in the fairest, equitable way that we can,” he said.

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Alex Weidenhof

Alex Weidenhof