The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


May 6, 2014

Ebensburg proactive on stormwater

JOHNSTOWN — Ebensburg Borough officials will probably not be the most popular people in the community this summer.

Later this year, officials are expected to enact an additional levy on borough residents to pay for stormwater runoff.

“It’s not going to be very popular, Council President Doug Tusing told our Kathy Mellott last week.

We would tend to agree with his assessment. Taxes are never a popular topic of conversation, no matter what they are for.

But residents of the county seat should not hold their local leaders in too much contempt. This edict is courtesy of their representatives in Harrisburg.

Act 167 of 2013 allows communities to collect the tax to help deal with runoff issues, borough Manager Dan Penatzer said.

The money will use used for the construction of an up-to-date stormwater

collection system, Tusing said.

“Ebensburg is built on a hill,” he said. “There’s a lot of water coming from it and you have to deal with it.”

The measure classifies stormwater as a utility, placing it in the same category as water and sewage. Thus, every property owner will be taxed, Penatzer said. And that includes tax-exempt property, such as churches, schools and the courthouse.

Ebensburg is the first municipality in the region – and among the first statewide – to enact the tax.

“Ebensburg has so many stormwater problems all over the place,” Penatzer said. “There are very few catch basins here, and when we get a heavy storm, everything is in the streets.”

The new levy will only take $48 from homeowners this year. However, when fully enacted, it will remove $96 a year from property owners’ wallets. Areas that do not absorb water, such as parking lots, will be charged on total area, up to a total of $2,800.

We applaud Ebensburg’s leaders for taking a proactive approach to the new legislation. Perhaps other communities can turn

to Ebensburg for help when it’s their turn to deal with stormwater runoff issues.

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