Palmerton owes the state Department of Environmental Protection $30,500 for its deficient wastewater treatment plant.

Borough Council on a 6-0 vote Thursday agreed to authorize the signing of a wastewater treatment plant consent order and to pay DEP the money. Councilman Randolph Gursky was absent.

Borough Manager Rodger Danielson said the consent order has been necessitated by the borough's current wastewater treatment plant, which has been cited by DEP for various violations.

"There were certain deficiencies within the past two years, and we have received notices from DEP," Danielson said. "We were given a timetable in which we will make certain corrections; we have to be accountable for that."

Danielson said the borough would utilize money from its sewer fund to pay the consent order.

However, Danielson said the action may actually work in the borough's favor as it relates to a potential grant through PennVEST since one of the stipulations to qualify for the grant is to be under a consent order.

Council President Terry Costenbader said the borough is "looking for money anyway we can find it."

In a related matter, council announced a bid opening for the borough's new estimated $10 million wastewater treatment plant will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 16.

Danielson said construction of the new wastewater treatment plant could begin early next year.

In August, council on a 5-0 vote approved the acceptance of Carbon County bond financing after county commissioners approved an interest reduction loan that will issue economic development bonds.

The loan will result in about a $400,000 savings to the borough over the course of a 30-year bond issue, Danielson previously said.

The bonds are available through federal stimulus money, also known as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

In June, the borough applied for an H2O grant in the amount of $8,164,530 to help afford a new wastewater treatment plant.

That decision came after council in April authorized Danielson and borough solicitor Michael Ozalas to prepare a $10 million bond issue after it learned the project would cost more than expected.

For residents, that will mean about a $17-18 increase in their monthly sewer bill rate, which could go into effect by Jan. 1, 2011.

As of January, the project was expected to cost the borough about $6.5 million; however, engineer estimates pushed the project's cost higher.

In other business, Councilman Chris Olivia suggested that the borough should consider the purchase of a backhoe.

"I see all the backhoe work that we're getting into; we keep paying out thousands of dollars," Olivia said. "I think we need to purchase our own backhoe."

Olivia noted that Bowmanstown, Lehighton, and Slatington have their own backhoes.

Finally, Mayor Brad Doll announced that a couple expressed thanks to the police department after officers recently caught two juvenile females stealing Halloween items from their property.

Doll said the couple commended the officers for their work.