EAST BRADY – A Dec. 27 letter from the Petroleum Valley Regional Water Authority (PVRWA) urging its customers to question East Brady’s recent decision to raise bulk water rates for bulk and local customers initiated further discussion at last week’s East Brady Borough Council meeting.

During the public concerns portion of the meeting, Petroleum Valley water customers Shawn and Dennis Kelly asked council members to address the bulk water increase — set to take effect this month.

“I received a letter from the PVRWA, where I get my water... encourag[ing] attendance at this meeting,” Shawn Kelly explained to the council. He noted that the letter states that in order to offset East Brady’s 78 percent rate hike, the PVRWA “reluctantly voted” to implement a $10 per month surcharge for all its customers regardless of how much water was used. “We’re not here to argue or fight, we just want an explanation.”

Council president Barb Mortimer explained that the across the board increase for East Brady, Petrolia and Rimersburg customers takes the rate from $1.825 per thousand gallons to $3.25 per thousand gallons. The increase was deemed necessary to cover the $2.82 per thousand gallons to produce water, with the remainder going into a separate water account to cover maintenance for the entire system.

Mortimer also pointed out that East Brady’s 20-year contract with Petrolia allows for increases in water rates as needed.

In addition, the council further explained that even with the increase, individual water rates are still on the low end of rates charged by other area water companies.

Regarding the $10 increase implemented by PVRWA, councilman Denny King said that Petrolia customers would have to use approximately 6,000 gallons of water per month to equal the $10 increase.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Shawn and Dennis Kelly voiced dismay that more PVRWA customers had not attended the meeting to hear the explanation of the rate-increase first-hand.

“I’m very disappointed there were only two people representing the entire [valley],” Shawn Kelly said.

The bulk water rate increase across the board took effect Jan. 1 and will be reflected on the bills for water usage in January which will be sent out at the beginning of February.

Also during last week’s meeting, East Brady Borough Council kicked off the new year by holding its reorganizational meeting for 2018 to swear in new members and elect officers.

Following his reelection this past November, and being sworn in prior to the meeting, borough mayor John Klein administered the oath of office to returning council members Bill John — who was reelected to a two-year term — and Raymond “Kenny” Crawford and Jennifer Switzer — who were elected in the fall after previously being appointed to fill vacant seats.

Also being elected after previous appointments were Denny King — who was sworn in at an earlier time — and Tom Hillwig — who, due to his absence last week, will take the oath of office at the next meeting.

After reinstating the new members, the council then elected officers for 2018. Barb Mortimer and Joe Hillwig — who was also absent from the meeting — were elected to retain their posts as council president and vice president respectively, while King was elected president pro tem.

Susan Buechele was appointed borough secretary/treasurer as well as open records officer.

In addition, council members voted to retain Senate Engineering of Pittsburgh as the borough’s engineer, Tyler Heller as solicitor and Farmers National Bank as its financial institution.

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