|Sewage from Pottstown, West Pottsgrove, Upper Pottsgrove and Lower Pottsgrove is all treated at the Pottstown Wastewater Treatment Plant.|
The Pottstown Wastewater Treatment Plant on Industrial Highway is owned and operated by the Pottstown Borough Authority.
Sewer systems in West Pottsgrove, Upper Pottsgrove and Lower Pottsgrove connect to it and sewage generated in those communities are treated at the Pottstown plant for a price.
Under the terms of agreements between the townships and the borough authority, the townships also pay for
|A birdseye view of the Pottstown Wastewater Treatment Plant|
By way of example, Lower Pottsgrove’s bill for 2013, approved on Feb. 11, was $411,613.
In Upper Pottsgrove and West Pottsgrove, those agreements are made directly with the township government.
In Lower Pottsgrove, a separate township sewer authority oversees the piping and pumping systems in that township, as well as governing the relationship with the borough authority.
According to a report in Monday’s Sanatoga Post, all three townships would like to change that relationship.
The practice the three townships most want to change is the borough authority’s unilateral decision-making, Lower Pottsgrove Manager Rod Hawthorne told the board of commissioners during an April 1 meeting, the post reported.
“We want a say. We’d like to have seats at the table,” Hawthorne said, according to the Post.
The borough authority is not unaware of these concerns and discussed them during a March 12 board meeting.
|Borough Manager Mark Flanders|
“When we asked for their input, their response was ‘we don’t agree,’ he said. “They want to sit down and talk. It’s my understanding they want to actively participate in sewer plans.”
“I suppose their input is ‘we don’t want to pay any more money,’” said authority board member David Renn.
Bob Plenderleith, who oversees the day-to-day management of the borough authority’s accounts, told the
board that the staff has been sharing the capital plans for the plant, which may include a second $6.2 million dryer used to dry the sludge which is a by-product of sewage treatment. Drying it makes its disposal significantly cheaper.
“We shared the preliminary numbers ahead of time so they could prepare their own budgets,” said Flanders, referring to a common complaint of several years ago, when the township officials complained they were not getting accurate or timely numbers out of borough hall.
Although the timeliness has improved significantly, apparently some officials in the township still question the accuracy.
Plenderleith noted that West Pottsgrove recently imposed a fee on its sewer customers to begin to set aside funds for capital expenses.
But he also observed that he believes the townships ‘want to have a say in what we do and don’t do.”
A joint meeting among the three townships and the borough authority has been set up for Tuesday, April 16, according to the Post.
“There is some benefit to having a face-to-face meeting,” Renn said when a meeting date was still being discussed. “Perhaps we can make them understand that these are not whims, these are necessities,” he said of the capital plans.
Hawthorne said the townships want “to talk about how they might more equitably share in discussions of and planning for capital funded projects. They’d also like to propose joint grant-writing and other collaborative efforts to ensure the four municipalities don’t compete against themselves where authority projects are concerned,” according to the Post report.
Officials from all three townships have already met separately from the borough authority to share their common concerns and decide which issues to bring to the table at the April 16 meeting.
According to the minutes of that joint meeting, held Feb. 11 and highlighted in the Post report, the townships would like to discuss the sewer service agreements; having “a seat at the table for discussion of future and present financial commitments required by the borough;” and “a third-party overview of the borough’s wastewater treatment plant and financial billing issues.”
The possibility that the townships might want to re-negotiate their service agreements with the borough authority was raised at the March 19 meeting, a possibility which elicited a one-word answer from Renn — “no.”
The minutes of the meeting between the three municipalities also indicated that Lower Pottsgrove has paid Bursich Associates, its engineer, $5,000 to conduct a comparative study of “other treatment plants about the same size as Pottstown’s.”
Pottstown’s operation will be compared with the Lower Perkiomen Valley Regional Sewer Authority, and the Downingtown Area Regional Authority, according to the minutes of the Feb. 11 meeting.
Follow Evan Brandt on Twitter @PottstownNews