BURNHAM - Lewistown Borough Manager Connie Lucas discussed her vision for Lewistown Tuesday at the Rotary Club of Lewistown meeting in Burnham.
One of the first things Lucas did when she became borough manager was to implement electronic banking. The town originally had around 40 bank accounts and, when they had to make transfers, they were by check which could get confusing, Lucas said. Now everything is electronic and money can be wired from account to account.
Lucas then talked about the sewage treatment plant. Lucas said some people have not been paying their sewer bills and, in some cases, this has continued for several years. For whatever reason, the people who aren't paying their bills haven't had their water turned off.
Sentinel photo by DAN PIETROPAOLO
Lewistown Borough Manager Connie Lucas addresses the Rotary Club of Lewistown Tuesday in Burnham.
"It's standard practice in municipal management if you don't pay your sewage bill, you either have your own water company or an agreement with the water company that they will turn the water off to make people pay their sewage bill," said Lucas. "The way they're charged is by what their water usage is."
Lucas received gasps from the audience when she said there was a case where a resident owed $11,000 and another owed $10,000 of unpaid bills. Lucas said after a short period of time they were able to collect on that money.
"It's an accomplishment for the borough because it isn't fair if some people pay their bills and some people don't pay their bills." said Lucas, "We need to operate that sewage treatment plant. We are going through a large expansion on it. It's roughly around a 12 million dollar expansion."
The sewage tapping rates will be increased to $2,000 to help pay for the expansion. There are not many people tapping on to the sewage pipes in the borough, that is happening more in the townships, Lucas said.
"We are going to find it necessary to increase the sewage rates and all to pay for the new sewage plant," Lucas said.
Lucas mentioned another issue of a rental ordinance that has been talked about for a few years. There are some landlords who don't have safe housing for their tenants, Lucas said. She cited an example of a woman coming into her office saying she had no heat because the landlord took out the radiator.
In such a situation the codes officer would go to the residence, make sure there is actually no heat, and if there wasn't heat they would condemn the house because it isn't considered safe.
"We want to prevent issues like that," Lucas said.
Lucas said she was told in Philadelphia there are advertisements for Section 8 housing in Mifflin County.
"My opinion is we need to provide some lower income housing for the residents in Lewistown and Mifflin County but I don't think we want to attract people from all over the state to Mifflin County," Lucas said, "I would like to see Lewistown start growing, start looking better, enforcing the codes more, make it a desirable place to move."
Lucas said the borough hopes to have a public meeting for the rental ordinance that landlords can attend and ask questions. She said the borough hopes to implement inspections in the next year.
"It would probably be on a two- to three-year cycle," Lucas said. "If you have a rental property, every two to three years you would get inspected and be asked to comply."
When asked about the borough's financial status in a question-and-answer period, Lucas said they are "doing OK."
"I don't foresee any tax increases this next year. Like I said, we have to work our pennies and try to be more efficient," Lucas said.