Supervisors to begin lien process - Titusville Herald: News

Supervisors to begin lien process

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Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2018 5:00 am

OILCREEK TOWNSHIP, Venango County — While the number of homes not paying the tap-in fee for the Oilcreek Township sewage project has begun to decrease, the township has a new cost on its hands — the cost of filing 20 liens against those who absolutely refuse to ante up.

According to Township Supervisor Keith Klingler, the cost to file a lien is roughly $400, which would bring the total cost up to $8,000 for all 20 of the planned liens, which are likely to be filed within the next 30 days. During Monday’s meeting of the board of township supervisors, the township’s solicitor Bruce Getsinger explained the legalities of putting a lien in place, what the process is like and what the cost would be should the township decide to execute a lien and take a property into foreclosure or a tax sale so residents in attendance could understand what the supervisors were looking at.

While Getsinger said filing a lien could motivate people to pay the required fees, the process and cost of executing the liens, should the township get to that point, could be more of a burden than a relief. He said the cost would be more than $2,000 to execute the lien through the district magistrate’s office, and because it may not result in the township seeing any of the money owed, could be more of a financial strain.

While this information was helpful to the residents in attendance at the meeting, the grim reality that the township’s hands were tied in terms of legal action that could be taken against those not paying set the tone for the remainder of the meeting.

Residents that were already feeling disgruntled over the potential increase in the monthly bill due to other residents not paying became even more upset at the mention of the township covering the $1,500 cost of boring a hole below one resident’s driveway to avoid tearing it up. Additionally, the decision to take the less-than-desirable route to hook the resident into the sewage line is also part of the supervisor’s effort to obtain the tap-in fee of $1,000 from the home owner, who has not yet paid.

Several residents expressed their concern that it was unfair of the township to cover the cost when they were not afforded the same opportunity. Additionally, many felt it was a waste of township money to cover $1,500 of work when the home owner had not paid the $1,000 tap-in fee, and there is no guarantee that it will be paid afterward, causing the effort to be fruitless.

Similarly, the township supervisors each had mixed feelings about the $1,500 job. While Supervisor Greg Knupp said that he was only OK with the township covering the cost as a means to try to get as many people paid up as possible, Klingler felt that the error of where the tap was placed was the fault of the engineering company. While he said he would have liked the engineering company to cover the cost, he said it wasn’t possible and the township would have to eat the bill.

Several of the residents argued that the man in question had the opportunity to place his flag, which marked where the tap would be placed, in the correct location just like the rest of the township’s residents, but had purposely gone out of his way to avoid it.

According to those in attendance, the man allegedly parked his truck over the spot where the tap was meant to be placed so the engineers were unable to locate it, and placed the tap in the wrong area. The township’s roadmaster Stuart Anthony said the engineering company had followed protocol for placing the flag.

Anthony said he did not like where the flag was placed and wanted it to be moved closer to the manhole, but he had parked his truck overtop of the flag, making the engineers unable to move it because they couldn’t find it.

He said they were instructed to make contact with the home owner about the placement of the flag, but if they were unable to make contact, they were to place the flag 150 feet from the closest corner of the house, which was where the flag was placed, which was how the tap ended up in the final location because they were unable to make contact.

Klingler said he still felt the engineering company was at fault, and that the line should have never been placed where it was in the first place.

In addition, some residents suggested going through the driveway anyway and only covering the cost of the cement to repair the driveway, which both Knupp and Klinger said they did not want to do. Instead, Klingler made a motion to approve a Meadville company to bore the hole at the cost of $1,500, as long as the homeowner gave the right-of-way, to which Knupp gave the second. Township Supervisor Dwayne Whitman, who had sided with the residents throughout much of the discussion, made it known that he was against the approval of the township covering the cost for the project out of the sewage account, and he was voting against it.

“Well, give it the thumbs up, but you have got a room full of people that are very much agitated by it,” one resident said after the vote was made.

Other business

A bid from Shingledecker Welding Company to the tune of $15,721.10 was approved for work on the bridge on White City Road. The project will include an upgrade for new beams, railings, and more, and is slated to begin within a week’s time.

Anthony said the project would take two days, resulting in the closure of the bottom of White City Road.

The supervisors voted in favor of giving one resident a discount for his tap-in fee because he had allowed the township to use his fork truck, his property, and more, which was unanimously approved. The resident will only be required to pay $500 for his tap.

At the next meeting of the Oilcreek Township Board of Supervisors, to be held Oct. 8, at 6:30 p.m., the supervisors will determine what the tap-in fee will be for those homes that will connect in the future, as the price will go up since individual homes will not be part of a group project.

Dodd can be reached, by email, at ndodd@titusvilleherald.com.

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