THE CONNELLSVILLE WATER DIFFICULTY.
According to a report just presented to the town council of Connellsville, Pa., by a special committee appointed to confer with the Connellsville Water company and to look up the water works’ question generally,the borough can neither legally build a municipal water works system nor purchase the present plant. The latter step is impossible, as, even at the lowest appraisment that might be put upon at the plant and the utmost inflation of assessed valuations in the borough for purposes of taxation, the cost of the works would far exceed the seven per cent limit of indebtedness which the borough can incur, even with the consent of the citizens at a special election. Under the law as stated, the town can increase its indebtedness seven per cent., or §140,000. Its present indebtedness is §37,500, leaving a margin of something like §100,000 to buy the water works. The water company says it has spent over §200,000 on its Connellsville plant. The committee is satisfied that not less than §150,000 has been spent. The cost of the plant, however, will bear no relation to its value in case of an appraisement under the existing contract. That value must be determined by the earning powers of the property. The appraisement, therefore, would be in the neighborhood of §300,000. Nor can the borough take advantage of the act of assembly which allows a municipality to make such purchase at any time after twenty years, by paying net cost of erecting and maintaining the plant, with the interest at ten per cent, per annum, deducting dividends. The present contract will not terminate for ten years, and as the present company has not paid any dividends as yet and may continue to omit paying them,the prospect of such purchase at the end of the next ten years is as vague and indefinite, as it is today. To build a municipal water works system would cost §100,000. But it has been decided by the courts that where a water company has been organized under the act of 1874, to supply a city with water, and the municipality has contracted with the company and allowed it to lay its pii>es, it loses its powers to build a system of its own.
Under these conditions, therefore, it, seemed l>est to accept the concessions made by the water company, representing a reduction of nearly one-linlf on the hydrant rates, amounting to about §1,000 a year. The net rate is now only §16 per year for each of the seventy-two hydrants, which is small when compared with that paid by some other towns in the State as, for instance: Elizabeth and llniontown, §35; Scottdale and Latrobe, §33; Waynesburg, §50; Brad dock ,[§43; Washington. §40; New Brighton, §45. The rates to private consumers are also below the average. The average family rate of the eighty-eight private water companies in Pennsylvania is §7.35; of thirty-six municipal plants in the State, §595. The Connellsville rate is §5.40, less than either and very much under the average charge of private plants. In some of the neighboring towns the rates are as follows: Beaver Falls, $10; Elizabeth, §11; Franklin, $13; Gettysburg, §6; Meadville, §7; McDonald, §16; Myersdale, §6; New Castle, $9; Scottdale, §6; Scranton, $6; Sharon, §6; Uniontown, §6; Washington, $14; Waynesburg, §11.
The commitee has insisted that, in consequence of the existing complaints as to the badness of the water, a filter plant shall be installed at the lough river pumping station to filter the river water during its muddy conditions. The company agreed to put in a filter within a year.
The town council will undoubtedly act up to the recommendations of the committee, all of whose members were councilmen.
Garwin, la.—The vote on the water works question carried by asmall majority’.