Above: Signing the paperwork completing the sale of McKeesport's sewerage authority are Jeffrey McIntyre, president of Pennsylvania American Water; McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko; and Dale McCall, chair of the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport. (Submitted photo)
Pennsylvania American Water Co. today completed its purchase of the assets of the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport.
The sale, valued at $159 million, includes wastewater treatment plants in the city's lower 10th Ward, Duquesne and Dravosburg, sewer lines and infrastructure serving 64,000 people in those three communities as well as East McKeesport, Elizabeth Twp., Glassport, Liberty, North Versailles Twp., Port Vue, Versailles and White Oak.
After all of the debts and obligations of the sewerage authority were satisfied, the city netted more than $40 million, officials said Monday. The money is already in a city account, though portions of it must be escrowed while the authority's remaining business is wound down.
What it means for consumers:
Continue to pay your MACM bill as scheduled. Pennsylvania American Water will begin sending bills Jan. 1.
Sewerage rates will not increase for at least one calendar year and rate changes will have to be approved by the state Public Utility Commission.
Customers who pay in person at the office in Christy Park may continue to do so. A collection box is also available at McKeesport City Hall.
The same phone numbers may continue to be used until customers are told otherwise. The MACM billing department may be reached at (412) 673-0850.
Demolition of the vacant George Washington School in the Seventh Ward will begin soon and take about a month, weather permitting.
That's the word from David Seropian, business manager for McKeesport Area School District, who said demolition crews are going to try to preserve some items from the 1928-vintage building, which closed in 2014.
"I don't know specifically what's being saved, but there are some things we want to try to save," he said Tuesday.
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the demolition is a positive step forward for the school's neighbors on Sumac and Freemont streets.
(Above: Click to download McKeesport's 2018 budget. PDF reader required.)
There are few surprises in McKeesport's 2018 budget, which holds the line on taxes while increasing spending on capital expenses.
At Wednesday's meeting, city council passed the budget on a 7-0 vote. Property taxes remain at 6.26 mills on buildings and 18.5 mills on land.
One mill represents $1 in taxes paid for every $1,000 for which a property is assessed. Land is typically assessed at a much lower value than buildings.
While calculating a so-called blended millage can be tricky, a house assessed at $48,000 by Allegheny County would pay approximately $300 in city property taxes in 2017.
Council President Rich Dellapenna Jr. said Wednesday night he's "very pleased" with the $23.1 million spending plan. "I give the mayor, the administration and (Finance Director) Tasha Phelps a lot of credit for all of the hard work they've put into it," he said.
McKeesport officials will embark on an ambitious plan to demolish 150 to 200 homes and pave long-neglected streets, Mayor Michael Cherepko said Wednesday night.
Addressing city council before it voted on the 2018 budget, Cherepko said the "McKeesport Rising" project is intended to leverage the proceeds of the $159 million sale of the city's sewerage authority to Pennsylvania-American Water Co.
"I think it's only appropriate to manage that money as carefully as possible to last as long as possible," Cherepko said, but added that next year's budget also includes $2.5 million earmarked toward capital projects, including blight removal and street paving.
(Above: Elected officials led by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald enter McKeesport during a tour of the Great Allegheny Passage in September. Tube City Almanac file photo)
A biking-hiking trail like the Great Allegheny Passage is an economic development opportunity for the communities it passes through --- but only if those towns capitalize on it.
And, said David Kahley, president and CEO of the Greensburg-based Progress Fund, McKeesport hasn't exploited the Great Allegheny Passage to its fullest potential.
The Progress Fund runs the Trail Town Program, which over the past 10 years has invested in 65 small businesses employing 250 people along the "GAP" trail between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md.
"McKeesport has been problematic for us," Kahley said during an interview for Tube City Community Media's radio show, "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes," which airs Sundays on WEDO (810), WZUM (1550) and Internet station WMCK.FM, and is also available as a free podcast.
With Phase 1 of a makeover of the McKeesport Transportation Center complete, officials at Port Authority of Allegheny County are making plans and raising money to begin Phase 2.
The first phase included demolition of the dilapidated and mostly unused combination bus and train station, addition of 36 new park-and-ride spaces, and new sidewalks, curbs and bus lanes, says Adam Brandolph, spokesman for the agency. It also included new comfort stations --- restrooms --- for transit operators, he says.
"Phase 2 is going to focus on site improvements and is supposed to be much more expansive than the first phase, but we just don't right now have specific details, or a cost estimate," Brandolph says.
Editor's Note: This story will be updated with additional details, when available. Corrected at 5 p.m. Updated, 11 p.m. with comments from the Allegheny County Fire Marshal's Office.
Four people, including a McKeesport police officer, were hurt Thursday morning when fire swept through a house in the 2700 block of Grandview Avenue.
None of the injuries are believed to be serious, said McKeesport fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik, but the house is "likely a total loss." The family that lives there --- two adults and two children --- is presently homeless, according to rescue workers.
Allegheny County Chief Fire Marshal Matt Brown said the cause of the blaze is under investigation.
Neighbors called 9-1-1 at 6:46 a.m. to report the blaze in a two-story wood frame house at the corner of Grandview and York streets.