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Rate structure for water debated

Published February 22. 2011 05:00PM

The Slatington Borough Water and Sewer meeting erupted almost instantly when a resident approached council members Kris Burek and Vice President Bryon Reed stating that the current rate structure for water in Slatington discriminates against seniors who are homeowners.

The resident said that there is more concern for the 147 tenant-occupied senior apartment dwellers who are not paying minimum water rates than for those seniors who live in single-resident dwellings. He also blamed the plummeting property prices in the Borough on Slatington's rising water rates.

Burek responded by saying that based on the data there are 1,077 apartments in Slatington. She said they are "potential customers" who could be billed for water. Burek called apartment dwellers "transients" who come to Slatington to live for a few years and then move on. Burek said that the serious sewer maintenance problems that are cropping up could be abated if Slatington billed those 1,000 plus apartment dwellers for minimum water usage.

Burek said, "Slatington needs the money. I am going to ensure that the apartment owners pay. I'm not going away."

Landlords do pay for the water their tenants use. However, they pay metered rates, meaning they only pay for the amount of water that is actually used by their tenants. Home owners in Slatington also pay for water used, but if they fall below a minimum usage, they must pay a minimum rate. Those that fall below this minimum are generally seniors. Burek wants landlords to structure their units so that tenants who fall below the minimum rate are also billed.

Resident, Mel Gildner said that it was appalling that at the past council meeting Burek asked for a motion to bill landlords and single home owners in the same way and the motion was not seconded. However, in an interview with Vice President Councilman Reed, he said there were some issues that needed further discussion before the motion could be seconded. Reed said that although residents would receive lower bills, their minimum would also be lowered. The potential impact needed to be discussed further by the Council.

In other business, Reed said the Borough's electric bills are very high. Reed suggested looking at alternative power sources to offset the high electric bills. Solar panels and wind turbines were discussed, but neither power source would be a good option for Slatington. There is not enough roof space for solar panels and because of the way Slatington is logistically situated wind turbines would not be productive. Reed suggested looking at placing the turbines at the airport as an option.

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