Sewerage System Sale Finalized; City Taxpayers Receive $40M Payment

December 18, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

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.

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District Will Try to Save Some GW School Items

December 12, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(All photos: Special to Tube City Almanac)

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.

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Board OK's George Washington School Demolition

December 11, 2017 |

By Mary Shelly | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The vacant George Washington Elementary School will be demolished.

At last week’s board meeting, the McKeesport Area School Board voted to withdraw money from the district’s fund balance to tear down the school, which closed in 2014.

Located in the Seventh Ward between Freemont and Sumac streets, the building, constructed in 1928, sits on nearly two acres of land.

In other business, Superintendent Mark Holtzman reported on his recent study of the district, conducted along with Tia Wanzo, assistant to the superintendent.

Holtzman said a mix of staff interviews and surveys were used to collect data on what they believe are the “core values” of the district.

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New School Board Members Take Seats

December 11, 2017 |

By Mary Shelly | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Magisterial District Judge Eugene F. Riazzi swore in newly elected McKeesport Area school directors Ivan Hampton, Thomas Filotei, James Poston and David Donato at last week's meeting.

The board unanimously voted for School Director Joe Lopretto to serve again as school board president for 2018 and for Mary Jane Keller to serve as vice president.

"I will try to do the best I can, as usual," Lopretto said.

(Mary Shelly photo, special to Tube City Almanac)


Listen: Mayor's 2017 Budget and 'State of the City' Message

December 07, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko delivered his 2017 budget message and 'State of the City' address to city council at Wednesday's meeting.

You can download a PDF of the message and read it, or listen to the message here:

McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko - Budget Message - 12-06-2017

Filetype: MP3 - Size: 21.87MB - Duration: 23:53 m (128 kbps 44100 Hz)


City's 2018 Budget Holds Line on Taxes, Fees

December 07, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(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.

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Mayor Announces Ambitious 2018 Plans for Paving, Blight Removal

December 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

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.

That sale of the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport is expected to close before the end of the year, the mayor said, and should net taxpayers more than $40 million.

"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.

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Trail Town Head: Communities Must Embrace Bike Visitors to Gain Full Benefit

December 06, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(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.

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Phase 1 of Transit Center Makeover Complete; Agency Looks Ahead

December 04, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

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.

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Four Hurt as Fire Guts Grandview Home

November 30, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

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.

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