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UPSD Facing Additional $111K in Water Fees
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            The Upper Hanover Authority seeks more than $111,000 in additional fees from the Upper Perkiomen School District. Two letters mailed from authority Manager Marita R. Thomson to the district's education center cite issues related to water use at Hereford Elementary and issues of water use and a claim of unpaid tapping fees at the middle school in Upper Hanover.

            Earlier this year, the authority manager sent two separate letters to the district's education center requesting additional payments. A May 20 letter informed administrators that the district would be billed for six additional equivalent discharge units (EDUs) at Hereford.
            The letter requested immediate payment in the amount of $25,884 for the tapping fees. It states that the adjustment to the district's billing units is based on the school's consumption level in 2021.
            The authority claims to have discovered, during an audit, that the school's historic consumption has increased substantially or is in excess of 225 gallons per day. A resolution passed in 2001 permits an adjustment of unit billing and tapping fees where a water consumption allowance is exceeded, according to the letter signed by Thomson.
            Upper Perk board member Melanie Cunningham said she's not sure how the authority determined that level of increase. She explained that the student population at the building was significantly reduced after the district opened its 4th & 5th Grade Center for the 2019-20 school year. Additionally, the board member argued that fewer students attended elementary school than usual in 2021 during the district's hybrid learning model established because of COVID-19.
            A few weeks after the May 20 letter, Thomson sent another notification to school district administrators requesting additional tapping fees for four additional EDUs at the middle school due to the discovery of historical water consumption increases or use in excess of 225 gallons per day.
            Additionally, the June 13 letter claims that authority officials were never compensated for the installation of 24 EDUs at the school, at a cost of $85,392. Records reflecting payment could not be located.
            Cunningham countered that the district never received notice from the authority for that work at the middle school, located at 901 Montgomery Ave., Upper Hanover, and opened three years ago.

            She said administrators checked with officials from Breslin Architects, the Allentown firm that designed and managed the project, and John Sheeran, the district's former director of facilities and operations.
            "We can't find an invoice," said Cunningham, who added that Dan Direso – the district's business administrator – has been included in the search.

            "How I see it is that the authority just wants to increase our tapping fees," Cunningham said last week. "They want to increase the district's theoretical capacity."
            The district has not paid the fee increases, said Cunningham, who chairs the district's facilities and finance committees. She said its legal counsel has engaged with the authority in an attempt to settle the matter.
            "There has already been some discussion," Cunningham said last week.
            Cunningham noted that the district has not received any shutoff notices and said it makes regular payments to the authority.

            Multiple messages left late last week for Direso and Thomson were not returned prior to publication.






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