Members of the Chadds Ford Township Sewer Authority and its supervisors' liaison bandied numbers back and forth last week, but with no resolution on tapping fee charges for either the current Ridge Road project or the future Turner's Mill/Toll Bros. project.
A tapping fee is the amount property owners pay to the Sewer Authority to connect to the public sewer system. State law regulates the fee, limiting it to the construction and ancillary costs of the project, divided by the number of connections. There is also a charge for capacity at a treatment plant of $1,700 added. Township regulations make the connection mandatory if a sewer line is within 150 feet of the property.
Following the February Sewer Authority meeting, Chairman Vince Del Rossi, Vice Chairman Paul Linsen and supervisors' liaison to the authority, Garry Paul, each said the tapping fee for the Ridge Road extension project would have a tapping fee of close to $16,000 for each of the 38 homes to be connected.
During the March 21 meeting, authority member Marc Altman told resident Mariette Tobin that the fee might be less than previously anticipated. He said that the overall cost might be about $40,000 less than last month's estimate of $604,000.
Altman said the authority would wait until members had a better handle on the actual cost before setting the fee. He was unable to give a specific date, but said he hoped that would be within "a week or two."
Discussion also addressed issues and disagreements concerning the Turner's Mill sewer project that is part of the township's agreement with Toll Bros. and its construction of 120 homes at the former Camp Sunset Hill.
Following last month's meeting, Linsen said in an interview with the Chadds Ford Post that buyers of those homes would have an "imputed tapping fee" of $5,000 to $6,600.
Linsen said his conclusion was based on clauses in the planned residential agreement Toll Bros. and township supervisors signed.
Those clauses state that Toll would build a 140,000-gallon sewer plant at the Turner's Mill site, and install pipelines from Painters Crossing to the plant, and another line from Creek Road back to the treatment plant.
At the time of that agreement, the estimated cost of the project was $2.6 million, but that there would a cap of $3.5 million. Of those amounts, the PRD calls for the township to reimburse the developer 77.3 percent of the total base project cost or $600,000, whichever is greater.
Linsen said he divided the amount withheld by the township by 120, the number of homes built, to come up with his final figure, referring to it as the imputed fee.
Del Rossi and Paul took issue with Linsen's comments.
Del Rossi read a statement saying the Sewer Authority does not support Linsen. "His statements do not reflect the opinion of the Sewer Authority."
He added that the future homeowners of the Toll Bros. homes would not pay a tapping fee to the authority. Del Rossi then added that such a fee would be built into the price of the home.
Supervisor Paul said Linsen was wrong with his calculations because he had not factored in other Toll Bros. costs, such as the sewer lines it was installing within the development.
He said that if Toll's cost was divided by the 120 homes the result could be a tapping fee closer to $16,000.
Paul also said, prior to the meeting, that the $3.5 million dollar figure was only a cap on the amount Toll Bros. would finance, not a cap on the cost. If the project costs exceed $3.5 million, Toll will bill the township for the rest.
Discussion then moved to what the township's possible project cost would be what tapping fee would be charged to other residents. The township would be responsible for running sewer lines under Route 1 to connect properties on the north side to the plant on the south side of the road.
Paul said he had no set figure but estimated that the township's cost could be about $4 million to be spread among the 408 other potential users of the plant.
That would be a tapping fee of about $9,800.
The plant can handle 528 users. Subtract 120 Toll Bros. homes and that leave 408. Among those are residents of Painters Crossing Condominiums and other residents and businesses along the Route 1 corridor from Route 202 to Creek Road.
Following the meeting, Supervisors' Chairman George Thorpe, who rarely attends sewer meetings, said people don't realize the benefit of connecting to public sewers.
He said it improves the property value and is better than continually replacing a septic system, as often as every few years.
"I would love it if we had public sewers [on my street,]" Thorpe said.
"I really have empathy for people," he added, "but people don't realize the value [in public sewers.]"
Thorpe explained that people with septic systems have to replace the system [periodically and tat amounts to a tapping fee each time they do so.