Lillian 'Dolly' DiStefano Mazza of Kennett Square

The anticipated announcement of a tapping fee for the Ridge Road sewer extension may finally happen -- but only after changes to how they may be determined are understood.

Chadds Ford Township Sewer Authority members met with their solicitor John Mezzanotte earlier this month for an information session regarding new methods for calculating the mandatory sewer connection fees.

No decisions were reached, nor can they be outside of a public meeting. The next public sewer authority meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, 7 p.m. at the township building.

"We have to come out of this month's meeting with a number," said authority Vice Chairman Paul Linsen.

Authority Chairman Vince Del Rossi wasn't certain whether or not that would happen. He said after the township Board of Supervisors' meeting that the current project is moving smoothly and may be complete by the end of April or early May.

According to Del Rossi, the meeting with Mezzannotte in early April was to review provisions of a state law, Act 57, that allows tapping fees to include part of a previously project if the current project is an extension. It also allows for the usage, or capacity, portion of the tapping fee to be based on a per capita figure, not a single fixed rate.

The previous method of calculating the fee is to divide the total cost of the project by the number of connections being made, then adding $1,701 per connection for capacity.

"There are a lot of variables. We're still trying to understand the ramifications of the new law. Our previous numbers don't match with the new formula," Del Rossi said.

This is the first time Chadds Ford Township is applying Act 57 since Gov. Ed Rendell signed it into law in December of 2003.

Sewer Authority engineer Tom Smith, of Spotts, Stevens and McCoy, is currently crunching numbers and may have them available the day before Good Friday. At that point authority members will have a better idea of what to charge. They are scheduled to have another information meeting on April 18, the day before their regularly scheduled public meeting.

Sewer line installation began in February, two years later than scheduled. The job was to have started in 2004 but members of the Ravens Crest Homeowners' Association, the primary area to be connected in this project, took court action to block the project in June of that year. The case was settled and work resumed.

As previously reported, the delay increased the cost of the project and likely the tapping fee. The tapping fee for the first phase of the Ridge Road extension was $10,900, and that was to have been the fee for the second phase. However, as reported in March the fee has been anticipated at nearly $16,000.

The increased fee is due to higher construction costs. The original construction cost was roughly $180,000, not the currently anticipated $397,000.

During the supervisors meeting Del Rossi requested, and was granted approval, for a loan from the township to the Sewer Authority for $60,000. The loan is a 90-day note and is interest free.

Del Rossi said the loan is to maintain cash flow while the authority is waiting for first quarter sewer user bills to be paid and waiting for grant money.

He said the authority has enough money for routine expenses but wanted the extra to cover anything unexpected before the grant and user payments come in.

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