Monroeville council hired an engineering firm that will design an MS4 storm sewer building to be built on public works property.
Monroeville-based Fahringer, McCarty, Grey Inc. was hired for $36,900 at the Feb. 12 council meeting by a 7-1 vote.
Councilman Steve Duncan dissented, citing concerns that many of the services the firm will perform could be done in-house, thus saving the municipality money on the firm’s fee.
Jamey Story, staff engineer, said the firm’s design will also include storm water management improvements to the entire property, which will bring the current public works building up to current federal standards.
“I could put that building up for $36,900,” Duncan said. He said municipal engineering staff could apply for necessary permits needed for the new building.
Mayor Nick Gresock said the firm was hired at a fee not to exceed $36,900.
“To your point, you could bring that fee down by doing some of the things (in-house) you’re suggesting,” Gresock said.
Planning commissioner Georgiana Woodhall asked council why the MS4 building is needed and why is council not utilizing other municipal-owned property.
“There’s nowhere near the room, not even close,” said Councilman Ron Harvey.
Linda Gaydos agreed and added the new building will allow the municipality to keep record of all MS4-related expenses separate from other municipal expenditures when reporting them to the federal government.
“There’s no room at the public works (building) and there’s no space to put things there. We can’t share with them because they have their own work to do,” Gaydos said.
When Woodhall asked how much the building will cost, council members did not give a response. Gaydos said the “process” of getting a new building is found within municipality’s 2019 budget.
The municipality’s Pollution Control and Flood Reduction fund, the MS4 funding vehicle, has $1.6 million budgeted for capital improvement projects, including expenses for unspecified capital improvement projects, vehicles, equipment, facility and office equipment.
Some people on social media expressed concern over the building, saying the MS4 fee should be used to fix flooding issues and other stormwater infrastructure improvements — not construction of a new building.
The MS4 fee, established in October, is expected to raise $3.2 million a year, which council said will be used for various sediment and flood-control projects.
Residents who own single-family homes owe $120 a year while owners of larger properties were assessed according to how much impervious surface exists. The Monroeville mall owes the most at $222,840 a year.
Some property owners — 61 in all — have filed appeals of their MS4 assessments. The municipality is accepting appeals through Feb. 15. Manager Tim Little said he, Storey and code officer Paul Hugus meet weekly to review the appeals. Council has yet to appoint a three-member appeals board.
In response to concerns expressed over social media, Manager Tim Little said residents can contact him and other public officials.
“If there is a question on anything this municipality does, they can call me on the phone – call a council member. Come to a public meeting,” Little said.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter @dillonswriting.