Pittsburgh, PA
November 24, 2017
    News           Sports           Lifestyle           Classifieds           About Us
Local News
Commercial Real Estate
Auto Classifieds
Mortgage Rates
The Dining Guide
Headlines by E-mail
Home >  Local News >  Neighborhoods Printer-friendly versionE-mail this story
City Neighborhoods
Last call for city brewery on water, sewer bills

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

By Len Boselovic, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A long-simmering dispute over unpaid bills bubbled over yesterday, with the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority threatening to shut off a key ingredient in Pittsburgh Brewing's beer -- the water.

The city's largest and oldest brewery won a five-day reprieve from Common Pleas Court, but it's clear patience is running thin at the authority over debts dating back to 1996.

Common Pleas Judge Robert Gallo yesterday ordered that water be kept on through Saturday while the Lawrenceville brewery and the water and sewer authority attempt to resolve the dispute. The authority had notified the brewery yesterday that it intended to terminate service today between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The authority said the maker of Iron City and I.C. Light owes it $3.7 million plus penalties and interest. Although the dispute has been building for years, this is the first time the authority has threatened to shut off service. In fact, even when unpaid bills totaled $2.5 million in February, authority officials said there was no deadline for resolving the dispute.

Leniency is apparently no longer an option.

"They made some promises that they haven't lived up to," said Greg Tutsock, executive director of the water and sewer authority.

In August, the agency filed liens against the brewery for more than $651,000 in unpaid bills. Nearly $1.6 million in liens were filed late last year and early this year, while $941,000 in liens were filed in the summer of 2000.

Allegheny County Sanitary Authority spokeswoman Nancy Barylak said the last time the brewery made a sewage bill payment to the agency was in December 1998.

However, Alcosan doesn't have the authority to shut off service. That's the water authority's job. The water authority pays Alcosan for a customer's delinquent bills, then goes after the customer for the money, Barylak said.

In the past, Pittsburgh Brewing owner Joe Piccirilli has maintained he has been overcharged for water and sewer service and has promised to pay whatever the brewery owes over time.

Robert O Lampl, the brewery's attorney, said Gallo ordered the parties to attempt to settle the dispute by today and appear before him at a hearing this afternoon. If no agreement is reached by then, the judge has scheduled a Sunday hearing on whether to grant a preliminary injunction preventing the shutoff, Lampl said.

The dispute threatens the jobs of about 200 workers at the brewery, who have suffered through a succession of owners who had problems paying their bills. Piccirilli has been no exception.

Pittsburgh Brewing is delinquent on a five-year, $1.4 million loan it received in 1996 from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. According to reports prepared for city officials, the brewery's problems paying off loans from National City have prompted the bank to take its payments directly from the brewery's cash.

The widow of former brewery president Harvey Sanford obtained a $60,780 judgment against the brewery in August over the company's failure to pay her the pension she is entitled to following her husband's death in 1997. The brewery has been paying off that amount, said Charles Kenrick, the attorney for Betty Sanford.

Len Boselovic can be reached at lboselovic@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1941.

Back to top Back to top E-mail this story E-mail this story
Search | Contact Us |  Site Map | Terms of Use |  Privacy Policy |  Advertise | Help |  Corrections