SHENANGO TOWNSHIP – A huge bill will soon be heading to West Middlesex, but members of the Shenango Township Municipal Authority need a little more time to calculate the exact amount.

“This can has been kicked down the road long enough,’’ Tom Hubert, an authority member, said Tuesday at the organization’s meeting.

The township and West Middlesex borough municipal authorities have been wrangling for more than a decade over payment for an unpaid bill. Estimates of the debt range from $300,000 to $312,000.

The bill is for replacement of a drive belt at the wastewater treatment plant that treats sewage from both communities. 
Shenango Township operates the plant, but under a 1989 agreement, the West Middlesex authority pays 48 percent of the plant’s operating and equipment costs, and the township covers the remaining 52 percent.

West Middlesex has disputed that percentage and has said it never received a bill for the drive belt. Shenango Township said it did send a bill years ago but never received payment. The payment apparently predates all members of both authorities.

Hubert, who also serves as a Shenango Township supervisor, acknowledged there were shortcomings from past authorities.

“The (authority) board in those times should have been more aggressive in collecting the money,’’ Hubert said.

Another wrinkle was added to the dispute. Hubert said West Middlesex may not have paid up to a dozen other bills. Hubert said he couldn’t immediately identify what those bills are or their amounts.

“But I’m pretty sure they aren’t anywhere near what the belt drive cost,’’ he said.

The authority plans to conduct a review of all the expenses it believes West Middlesex owes with the goal of sending a bill by the end of August, Hubert said.

Bob Lark, president of West Middlesex Council, has been adamant that the town won’t make any payments until it has received a bill detailing the expenses. He has also said West Middlesex has no record of the 1989 agreement for the 48-52 percent split of costs for the plant.

Shenango Township will base its bill to West Middlesex on that percentage basis, Hubert said.

He said the authority has other ways of getting reimbursement from West Middlesex. Under the agreement, the township authority can change West Middlesex rates after giving a 90-day notice.

“We already paid those bills,’’ Hubert said of what West Middlesex owes for expenses. “We had to raise the rates for our own residents to pay for things.’’

Joe Depuy, a township authority member, said the dispute could have been avoided.

“We should have had a merged entity 30 years ago,’’ he said.

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