The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 16, 2013

Candidate targets city tap-in fees

Dave Sutor
dsutor@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Charlene Stanton, a write-in candidate for Johnstown City Council, has made one issue the focus of her campaign.

The Sell Street resident wants to help citizens deal with the required expense of tapping into the city’s sewer system, which is in a years-long process of being upgraded.

Connecting to the system routinely costs thousands of dollars. Estimates as high as $15,000 have been reported.

“It’s placing a huge financial burden on homeowners,” Stanton said. “Where does the city expect people to get the money?”

Stanton has collected more than 300 signatures on a petition and encouraged citizens to write letters to council about their concerns. She has also presented the idea of using Community Development Block Grant funds to help property owners offset the costs.

“The people know how strongly I feel about how this has affected the people of Johnstown,” Stanton said.

In 2010, Johnstown entered into a consent agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection that required the city to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows from its old and broken-down system.

The DEP did not specifically outline how the city should eliminate the overflows. Council considered several options, including installing holding tanks in neighborhoods and building a treatment plant. The board ultimately decided to install main lines throughout the city and require owners to get new laterals if their properties failed pressure tests, although the consent agreement mandated only smoke and/or dye testing.

Stanton is concerned that the cost of tapping into the system could negatively impact the community if owners simply abandon their properties, which she said could lead to increased blight and crime.

“This is going to have a huge domino effect on the city,” Stanton said.

Stanton, a wife, mother of two children and nurse at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, is the second person to announce a write-in campaign.

Dr. Joseph Taranto, a current councilman, also is a write-in candidate.

There are four openings on council. Four Democrats will be on the ballot: Pete Vizza, Marie Mock, David Vitovich and Nunzio Johncola. No Republicans are on the ballot in the Nov. 5 general election.



Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.