Dormont may levy stormwater utility fee

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To help address recurring flooding and prepare for government mandates, Dormont may institute a stormwater utility fee.

Borough council on Tuesday discussed a recommendation by the ad hoc stormwater advisory committee to hire environmental engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer for professional services toward developing a fee structure. The cost would be $55,640.

Solicitor John Rushford explained that for an ordinance establishing a fee to be “enforceable and legal,” the measure “has to be connected to the actual costs that are going to be incurred.”

Hazen and Sawyer, based in New York City, would conduct a study to determine upgrades that could be made to improve stormwater flow throughout Dormont. The firm has worked with the borough to develop a plan to mitigate flooding that recurs along Annex Alley, near Annex Avenue.

Residents of that neighborhood approached council about the problem two years ago, and a similar issue around Latonia Avenue later was brought to council’s attention.

In response, Bill McCartney, council president, appointed an advisory committee in October to examine local stormwater issues, and the committee has made its recommendation.

Frank Stumpo, committee chairman, said the committee advises that the borough take a “proactive approach” in addressing compliance with federal and state regulations by making improvements to help reduce stormwater runoff. The borough has about 12 miles of storm sewers, he explained, but the condition of about half of the pipes is unknown.

Mr. McCartney said council plans to vote on whether to retain the services of Hazen and Sawyer at its October meeting. In the meantime, the borough will send letters to residents notifying them of the stormwater committee’s recommendation.

Dormont has been conducting a “Stormwater 101” educational program, with a series of mailings outlining relevant topics and keeping residents informed about the borough’s plans for making improvements.

In other business Tuesday:

■ Council approved an agreement with Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc. to purchase road salt at $79.29 per ton, an increase of $21.77, or 37.8 percent, over last winter.

The contract is through the South Hills Area Council of Governments’ joint bidding process. Cargill’s bid was the sole one received by SHACOG, according to Jeff Naftal, borough manager.

He attempted to find a better price, but the only other option was the state’s cooperative purchasing program, and Dormont would have had to sign up by May to be part of that bid process.

“They do not make any exceptions,” Mr. Naftal wrote in a memo to council. “Their salt price would have been around $68 per ton but fluctuates depending on demand.”

The borough used about 2,100 tons of salt during the relatively harsh winter of 2013-14, he said.

■ Mr. Naftal suggested the possibility of keeping Dormont Pool open one week past Labor Day next year for additional revenue. Council members will discuss the topic while working on the borough’s 2015 budget.

Public meetings addressing specific areas of the budget are scheduled for Oct. 13, expenditures; Oct. 22, capital improvements; and Nov. 10, revenues.

Harry Funk, freelance writer:

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