Tamaqua voters defeated a ballot question asking if borough council should increase the borough's debt to be used to help real estate owners who must hook onto the sewage system as ordered by the state.

The question posed was as follows: Do you favor the increasing of indebtedness by the Borough of Tamaqua in an amount not to exceed $500,000 to be used exclusively toward real estate owners' relief for costs incurred or to be incurred for complying with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requirement that real estate parcels be connected to the existing sewer system by Aug. 31, 2011.

Voters said "no" 542 times to 497 "yes" votes.

Earlier this year the borough learned there were over 50 properties along the Wabash Creek, which runs through the downtown area, that are not hooked up to the sewage system.

The state ordered that they must be connected to the system at the owners' expense. Many of the property owners objected, noting many have been paying sewage bills to the borough for many years, despite the fact that their sewage was pouring into the creek, and even though they didn't know their property was not hooked up to the system.

Council agreed to put a question on the ballot for the voters to decide if the borough should go in debt to reimburse the property owners in question for the costs of hooking onto the system.

Yesterday's vote puts the burden of the costs totally on the property owners.