Construction on a $6.5 million project to upgrade Palmerton's aged wastewater treatment plant could get underway by late summer.

That was the information borough Manager Rodger Danielson shared with Borough Council on Thursday after he said the plans for the new treatment plant are nearly complete.

Danielson said a copy of the plan must be forwarded to the state Department of Environmental Protection, as well as the Delaware River Basin Commission.

From that point, Danielson said DEP has 90 days to review the plan, which would bring the time frame to around May.

"We would then plan to go out to bid," Danielson said. "Construction could start by the end of summer, early fall."

However, Danielson noted there is a $40,641 fee to file the plan with the Delaware River Basin Commission, and a $500 fee to do so with DEP.

In July, council learned the project would cost an additional $1 million more than the $5.5 million originally estimated to refine the borough's outdated wastewater treatment plant and sewage treatment plant.

At that time, council agreed to spend $989,000 on a cannibal treatment process, as well as $300,000 for an ultraviolet disinfection system.

Council agreed to that measure after it heard a presentation from Michael Sassaman, of ARRO Consulting Engineers.

Sassaman told council at that time the new option came to light after ARRO and borough officials visited the Jet Tech Factory in Kansas City, Mo., as well as an operating cannibal facility in California.

The new innovative process is now offered with the SBR Treatment Process that is being designed at the borough's wastewater treatment plant, Sassaman previously said.

Sassaman previously said the cannibal process is proven to modify the treatment process so that the plant eats up 90 percent of its own biological sludge.

The annual savings is expected to be about $57,000 per year, said Sassaman, who noted the cost of the cannibal system is $624,000 more than the previously proposed aerobic digestion system upgrade.

The estimated payback on the cannibal process is between six to nine years, after which ongoing savings will be realized, Sassaman previously said. Plus, he said Jet Tech has agreed to double the warranty period from one to two years for the system.

Sassaman said the life expectancy of the system is between 20-40 years. He previously said construction was slated for September, and that the project could be completed by 2012.

Council approved this year's budget with a 1-mill reduction in property taxes. However, as part of that budget, it approved a $10 increase in the monthly sewer rate due to the project.

In a related matter, council granted conditional approval to a subdivision plan that would expand the eastern terminus of Alley C for use as a new control building.

Danielson said the borough would be "annexing a triangular piece of property" slightly over 11,000-square feet.

"The borough Planning Commission recommended approval," he said. "Our engineer said it could be conditional approval based on meeting plan amendments."

Also as part of the measure, council agreed to approve waivers from ARRO Consulting Engineers.

Also on Thursday, Mayor Brad Doll said he wanted to pass along several reminders to residents during the winter season.

Doll said shoveling sidewalks or handicapped ramps is the responsibility of homeowners/business owners, and urged residents to assist the elderly.

He also discussed alternate parking, and how residents should follow suit and move their vehicle for 48 hours, and noted there is a two-hour parking limit during daytime hours along Delaware Avenue.

Finally, Doll reported the borough's police department has filed 173 incident reports to date this year.

In other business, council:

- Granted the Fairview subdivision review an extension until Feb. 28.

- Reappointed Joe Kercsmar as fire chief, and Dennis Behler as assistant fire chief.

- Approved a chief of police employment agreement.

- Approved adoption of an ordinance that calls for the opening of Princeton Avenue west located near the Village at Palmerton.

- Approved the first reading of an ordinance that would dispose of records from the police station.

- Approved, on a 5-0 vote, with one abstention, an extension lease with Palmerton Area School District for use of the Seventh Street ball field. Councilman Kris Hoffner abstained.

- Reappointed France, Anderson, Basile & Co., as the borough's auditor.

- Appointed Larry Zawaly to a vacancy on the borough's Shade Tree Commission.

- Approved the PA Department of Agriculture agreement.

- Approved per capita exonerations to be sent to the tax collector.

- Appointed Berkheimer & Associates to collect the balance of delinquent per capita taxes for 2009.

- Approved, on a 5-0 vote, with one abstention, to allow the Pacemakers Association to hold its Rolling Cruise from 4-5:30 p.m. June 19. Council President Terry Costenbader abstained.

- Granted permission to Blue Mountain Wellness Initiative to utilize the old council west office inside borough hall.

- Granted permission to the Palmerton Booster Club to use the Seventh Street field.

- Granted permission to the Palmerton Memorial Park Association to conduct its meetings inside borough hall.