Over the past two years, the borough of Nesquehoning has been making major improvements to the community's aging infrastructure to the tune of over $1.5 million.
In January of 2011, council started assessing the work that needed to be done within the borough.
An engineering study was then performed.
"We went street by street looking at the worst streets," said councilman Mark Stromelo.
It was determined that numerous streets, including Mill Street, required resurfacing, while others were in need of reconstruction. Challenges arose for the borough while working on Mermon Avenue.
"When the sewers were put in 21 years ago, there were no documented maps or anything, and what we found out there was a nightmare and added costs to everything," said council President Frank Jacobs.
Additionally, various sanitary and storm sewers also needed to be replaced in the borough and in the Village of Hauto. Finally, it was determined that while all three units in the Nesquehoning Wastewater Treatment Plant needed rehabilitation, the main focus would be on Units 1 and 3.
From there, the borough had to look into financing the enormous project.
Initially, a loan was obtained from Mauch Chunk Trust; however, the borough later refinanced $1.8 million with Jim Thorpe National Bank, which also enabled them to pay off other debts.
For the sewage plant, after the borough's PennVest loan was paid off as a result of refinancing, funds that had been escrowed were then released and an additional $350,000 line of credit was also established.
"This is the first time any major funds were spent on the sewer plant in over 20 years," said Jacobs.
The cost to rehab each unit was approximately $250,000 and both units were cleaned out, sand blasted and repainted. Valves and piping were also replaced. Jacobs also noted that the borough hopes to have Unit 2 completed in 2013.
Although the borough was reluctant to borrow funds for the projects, they felt they could not afford to wait any longer to have the work completed.
"We can't wait for the tax money," said Stromelo. "Especially this year with that Centax. It really screwed up everybody."
In 2010, Carbon County, along with at least 10 other counties, hired Centax as the county's EIT tax collector. Under the PA Department of Community & Economic Development's Act 32, counties were required to hire one single tax collector to handle all earned income taxes collected. Competitive bids were received by three other tax collection companies but the award went to Centax, who failed to process and distribute earned income taxes to the various municipalities and school districts and later went out of business. Now, municipalities are struggling to try to recoup their lost revenues.
"Everybody is in the same boat. Everybody is just getting by," said Jacobs.
Although it is a costly endeavor, maintaining a community's infrastructure is vital to a community's overall health and well-being and residents of Nesquehoning can be assured that council members and borough employees are working hard to meet the ongoing needs of the borough.