MANCHESTER -- A small portion of the town's $11 million sewage treatment plant expansion could become a big headache in the coming months.

While a sewage pipeline that would serve 21 properties in the southern part of town is expected to cost less than $169,000 now, the council is grappling with how to find the money to complete the pipeline project before the cost escalates.

"The council needs to decide soon, before the cost increases," Mayor Earl A. J. "Tim" Warehime Jr. said during last night's council meeting. "We do need to have some kind of plan in place."

The pipeline is part of the second phase of the expansion project, which began nearly five years ago and is expected to be completed in about two years.

The expansion project's comes out to more than $3,685 for each man, woman and child in this 226-year-old town.

Cost estimates have increased more than $3 million in the past five years.

And what the council hopes to avoid is an escalation in the cost of any remaining part of the project.

To pay for the small pipeline, the towncannot look to its $900,000 budget for the cash.

The gravity-powered main -- about 2,200 feet long on two sides of Route 30 from New Street to the High's convenience store -- is one of the few portions of the project not eligible for state or federal grants.

State andfederal sources are paying for more than 96 percent of the project'scost.

Part of the problem with the gravity main is that the town cannot force some of the 21 property owners -- who live outside town limits but are in the path of the pipeline -- to hook up.

Currently, water and sewer fees charged to town residents are designed to pick up the costs of the expansion project. The town is working with thecounty to attempt to get all property owners along the pipeline to hook into the system.

"I just think that it is good for the environment," Warehime said. "It would be best if all could be hooked up to the system."

The current system can handle 250,000 gallons of sewage a day. The expansion -- the first phase is complete -- would double the capacity at the Beaver Street plan to a half-million gallons a day.

Town officials will meet with Conewago Contractors Inc. of Hanover, Pa., on Friday to discuss preconstruction details on the project's $1.3 million second phase.

Conewago will build a new pumping station as part of the second phase. The gravity main can be includedin the same contract as that pumping station, if the town decides todo so.

The council will discuss the issue further at its next meeting. At that time, the mayor wants the council to decide when to build the pipeline.

In other action, the council learned the county is nearing completion on the second round of revisions to the town's proposed master plan.

Scott Fisher, a comprehensive planner with the county who wrote the 80-page master plan in 1989, said that his office will present a revised document next week to the council.

The plan has been criticized by town residents who are upset at its recommendation for a bypass to Route 30, which they say would cut through living rooms and front yards.

The plan for Manchester is the last of the county's master plans awaiting approval.

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