More than 200 people have signed an online petition that seeks to change the way customers are billed for sewer service.
On Monday, the petition’s creator addressed the Centre Region Council of Governments General Forum. Tom Songer, managing partner at Torron Group, called on the elected officials to mandate in the 2017 Act 537 plan that University Area Joint Authority adopt a rate resolution that charges a uniform rate for sewer service to all customers based on water meter readings.
Customers pay for water and electricity based on the amount they use, sewer service should be the same, Songer said.
State College borough residents are already charged this way.
Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said he can’t recall having complaints about the sewer service rate.
“Sewage service is not a volume-based business,” said Steve Miller, chairman of the Ferguson Township supervisors.
The infrastructure and systems make up the cost, he said, adding that he thinks the current system is fair.
UAJA uses an equivalent dwelling units (EDU) system to bill for sewer service. The rate per EDU is $104 per quarter. A single-family home, for example, is billed for one EDU.
Peter Buckland, vice chairman of the Ferguson Township supervisors, said that while he applauds Songer’s volumetric billing policy for its environmental responsibility and efficiency, the effect of the policy could end up being regressive.
A family of four at or near the poverty line will be hit more than people who are more affluent, he said.
While it could be regressive in some instances, the policy could be progressive in others, said Carla Stilson, College Township Council vice chairwoman. It seems that there’s inequality, she said, and some of the EDU structure is sort of random.
Two residents spoke in favor of the volumetric billing proposal at the meeting.
Cory Miller, UAJA’s executive director, was also in attendance to present to the COG about the possibility of developing a Regional Integrated Water Plan. An integrated water plan is a long-range water resources plan that ensures that all current and future water needs within the watershed are met, he said.
“UAJA is not opposed to volumetric billing,” Miller said. “What we’re opposed to is implementing a volumetric billing plan without including all of the watershed plan.”
Tom Daubert, COG General Forum chairman and State College Borough Council president, suggested that the COG Executive Committee discuss Songer’s proposal and Miller’s presentation and have the committee come up with a proposal about how to move forward for the municipalities to all consider.