It seems like it's been years now - actually, it is a number of years - that the Summit Hill Borough building project has been going on.
The buildings are occupied but the borough still hasn't accepted them. That's because they weren't constructed to contract specifications.
The buildings - a new fire station and a borough hall which includes a police station - have a price tag roughly of $3.5 million. Of this amount, about $1.5 million is coming from state grants.
The problem is that the state grant hasn't arrived yet. As a result, the borough had first obtained an interim loan and then went into bond financing to assure it has the money needed until the grant arrives.
For the past two years - and counting - the borough has been paying interest on what politicians insist is guaranteed financing. It was Aug. 15, 2006, that a press release from the office of Governor Ed Rendell stated, "Governor Rendell has authorized the release of $1,250,000 in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funding for the construction of a new municipal office and fire company..."
It is closing in on 2011 and the release of the funds did not occur, at least not to Summit Hill Borough. We're told this might not happen until the borough accepts the buildings.
Meanwhile, the borough's 2,966 residents paid roughly $23,065.97 in interest in the first year of the bridge loan. This is in addition to the $47,000 interest (not principle) on the general bond issue for the borough's cost of the project.
We're sure the borough council is very frustrated about the timetable. They're not responsible for the inferior work alleged regarding one of the contractors.
There have been executive sessions held regarding the course the borough should take regarding the matter; especially whether the contractor that did the sloppy work should be sued.
There even was a contract awarded for another contractor to come and fix up what wasn't done right in the first place.
The council has to be applauded for its efforts. Now the emphasis has to be put on getting the state grant that was promised to the borough. The council should contact the state and have a representative of either the governor's office or State Representative Keith McCall's office attend a meeting of the council and state to the public what is needed for the borough to get the grant money, which political leaders so ceremoniously announced years ago.
Interest payments keep accruing and the residents just can't afford this.
Further, having a state official detail the status of the funding will help the borough when it works on its 2011 budget, which is guranteed to be tight.
When the project began, it was estimated that borough residents would pay about 3.12 mills for the building project. It's going to be difficult for the borough officials to keep the rate at this amount.
But don't blame the council members for it. They tried. The buildings were a necessity.
They must, though, do what they can to get their state money ASAP.
By RON GOWER