Municipal authority owes $12 million
Washington Township residents were adamant on Monday night that their tax dollars earmarked to pay the debt of the Washington Township Municipal Authority (WTMA) should go only to reduce the $12 million debt of the sewer authority and not be kept in the township’s general fund.
Tonya Bauer, chairperson of the Washington Township board of supervisors, agreed with the residents and explained that 56 percent of real estate taxes will be placed into a savings account that will be paid over to the WTMA.
In January supervisors increased real estate taxes by 2 mills so that the WTMA can decrease its debt. The total millage of Washington Township is 3.7 mils. All of the money collected in the 2 mill increase, roughly $440,000 along with any interest, will be deposited into a savings account.
Township Manager Jason Ganster cautioned that the $440,000 will help the WTMA meet its debt in June, but by December there might not be enough money from the 2 mil tax increase for the WTMA to meet its loan payment.
“Then that will be an issue,” Ganster said.
An angry resident wanted to know why such debt has been created by the WTMA and questioned if it was legal for the supervisors to serve on the board of the WTMA. Township Solicitor Daniel Becker explained it is legal for a board of supervisors to serve on a sewer authority.
He said a year ago the relationship between the supervisors and the WTMA was “adversarial.” Becker said the WTMA told the supervisors to raise taxes and the WTMA would not raise sewer rates. Supervisors decided the debt burden should be shared between the sewer customers and the taxpayers.
Becker noted, “If the board of Supervisors did not make a choice the system would fail. The board of supervisors tried to find the best solution.”
He explained if the WTMA defaults, a receiver would be appointed who would raise sewer rates and the township as a guarantor on the WTMA loans would be required to raise taxes. He finished by saying the supervisors have sympathy for its citizens’ plight, but it is trying to do the responsible thing.
In other business, supervisors approved J. Morgensen Landscaping to seed and regrade its borough ball field as well as put a drain under the field. The cost of the project is $49,064.95.
Supervisors have also requested that its citizens report any vandalism they witness at the township parks.