The concept of paying the piper takes on a deeper meaning when one considers the piper is the Chadds Ford Township Sewer Authority, and the latest piping fee is likely to be close to $16,000.
People angered by such high costs for mandatory sewer connection have to face certain facts, the primary being that this is the law, and that they should have spoken out when those laws were under consideration.
As reported in last week's edition of the Chadds Ford Post, the tapping fee for phase two of the Ridge Road sewer extension project has not been fully determined, but the latest estimate was $15,894.
Tapping fees are the cost property owners pay to connect to public sewer lines. Their calculation is based on state criteria calling for construction costs of a project to be spread out among the users connecting, plus another fee for capacity at the sewer plant.
This is the most expensive tapping fee to date. Previous projects had fees of $11,900 and $10,900. What is most hurtful about these fees is that residents must pay it all up front. And the connection is mandatory when a sewer line runs within 150 feet of a property -- even if the property has a properly functioning on site septic system.
Ironically, one reason the current fee is so high that the Ravens Crest Homeowners Association filed court action against the project two years ago. The delay added several hundred thousand dollars to the project cost that, in turn, increased the tapping fee from $10,900.
That court action sought to stop the sewer extension because Ravens Crest had a lot with a private sewer plant for the development's use. A settlement was reached with Chadds Ford Township agreeing to buy that property for $100,000. (That cost is not part of the tapping fee, according to Supervisor Garry Paul.)
Section 2502 of The Second Class Township Code -- the state code for townships such as Chadds Ford -- says that township supervisors "may by ordinance require adjoining and adjacent property owners to connect with and use the sanitary sewer system..."
That section further states that residents living within 150 feet of the sewer lines must connect within 60 days of being notified to do so.
Chadds Ford Township has such an ordinance. It is Ordinance 84A passed in the spring of 2001.
Are tapping fees of $16,000 ridiculously high? Yes, they are, especially when one considers neighboring townships have fees of $5,000.
Do residents with working septic systems have a right to feel outraged at paying such a fee and being forced to connect? Yes. But where were these residents when their neighbors on Summit Drive and Longview and Woodland roads were facing $12,000 tapping fees at the end of 2001? Where were they when the supervisors passed the enabling ordinance in early 2001?
Perhaps nothing would have been different had people spoken up earlier, but maybe they would.