Entire board named to troubled group
The financially troubled Washington Township Municipal Authority (WTMA) held its reorganization meeting on Monday night prior to the Washington Township Board of Supervisors meeting.
Despite the concern by Washington Township customers that fees for sewage service would increase higher than the current $926 per year, there was no discussion of a sewer rate increase.
Amy Sutryn was elected as chairperson of the sewer authority. Along with George Lewis and Sutryn all three members of the board of supervisors, Jim Roma, Ernest Gehman and Tonya Bauer, now hold positions on the sewer authority. Dan Becker replaced Mike Setley as the municipal authority solicitor. Becker is also the solicitor of Washington Township Board of Supervisors.
Washington Township Board of Supervisors has the legal authority to appoint members to the sewer authority. However, the sewer authority is a legal and autonomous entity from the township. With the appointment of the entire board of supervisors to the sewer authority, effective control of the authority is now in the board of supervisors hands.
John Wynn, a Spring Valley resident of Washington Township, questioned whether it was legal or ethical to have the three township supervisors appoint themselves to the sewer authority. Wynn noted, “Just because there is nothing in writing that the supervisors cannot be on the sewer authority board does not make it legal.” Solicitor Dan Becker said that it was permissible to have members of the township board of supervisors on the sewer authority board.
Chairperson Sutryn asked the sewer authority board to look at the sewer authority’s financial and income statements prior to next month’s meeting so the board can better understand the sewer authority’s financial position. Sutryn hopes the new board will run the sewer authority in a businesslike manner. She said, “We make no money because we have a huge debt, but we have to plan.” The sewer authority has 13 percent more revenue than last year because it has more sewer hook ups, but its $12 million dollar debt is a great burden.
Stuart Rosenthal, Gilmore & Associates, engineers for the sewer authority, requested the sewer authority proceed with replacement of pumps at its Weinstieger Pump Station. MGK was awarded the contract for $24,900. Surtryn said, “If the pumps are not fixed soon, a lot of rain water and snow melt will cause leaks.” The sewer authority has identified properties whose lateral hook ups to the sewer system are in need of repair because they are leaking. The sewer authority has asked the property owners to repair their laterals so there is no sewage infiltration. Currently, there is no known sewage back flow into houses.
No meeting was scheduled with Bryan Tuk, the attorney retained by the sewer authority to obtain a better interest rate for the authority’s $12 million dollar debt. The sewer authority board is committed to seeking a more favorable interest rate on its debt. The next sewer authority meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 27, 2012 at 6 p.m. prior to the board of supervisors meeting at 8 p.m.