Appeal denied; borough ordered to pay $7.5 million

Jeff Fuller
Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

After years of litigation and an exhaustion of all legal appeals, West View Borough will pay $7.5 million to Girty's Run Joint Sewer Authority.

The sewer authority consists Ross, Shaler and Reserve townships as well as the Borough of Millvale.

The order originally came from Alle-gheny County Common Pleas Judge Stanton Wettick. The ruling stated that the small municipality and its waste water department was responsible for 25 percent of the total cost of Girty's Run's purchase of land to build sewage retention sites along Babcock Boulevard in Ross and Shaler.

"We tried to fight this to the very last court we could take it to," said Daniel Daugherty, West View Borough council president.

"Girty's Run Board of Directors has their views and we have ours. West View just came out on the short end this time around."

Wettick's order instructed the borough to pay $3.9 million in actual construction costs and an additional $3.4 million for accrued interest and legal fees.

West View officials argued that the borough was not responsible for one quarter of the costs of the retention sites, as based on an agreement signed in 1987. Additionally, officials contended that West View's population and resulting sewer usage had decreased during the past two decades, while other municipalities, such as Ross Township, had seen growth.

Daugherty still believes West View should not have to pay such a substantial amount.

"There is no way West View should have to pay 25 percent," he said. "We didn't feel we were responsible for this and tried to work out a compromise. It just didn't work out."

One local resident said borough officials did not work closely enough with Girty's Run leaders to resolve the issue. If local officials would have put their heads together, he said the lawsuit might have been avoided.

"This is a very political issue and does a major disservice to West View residents," said Jim Barr, West View resident. "We should have worked closer with the other communities involved in Girty's Run."

Barr also questioned why West View is not a member of the joint sewage authority and said a deal should have been forged rather than heading to court, which would have avoided more than $3 million in legal fees and interest.

The ruling first was appealed to state court, which upheld Wettick's decision. In October, West View's final appeal was presented to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case.

Borough officials now are considering payment options available to cover the $7.5 million payment to the joint sewer authority.

Daugherty said the funding likely will come through a 30-year bond to lessen the impact on West View residents.

"We're trying to expedite everything as fast as we can to get this issue behind us," said Daugherty, a longtime board member.

"It's all these mandates from the government that tell us what we have to do. Unfortunately, it's the people who end up paying for it."