Letter To Editor
A quick explanation of what is going on
As Abraham Lincoln once said “A House divided amongst its self cannot stand,” but this is how Muncy Residents can view the current status of its local government. At a time when our national economic outlook leaves us all uncertain and vulnerable, we find a battle of power and control being waged by our current Muncy Borough Council against the Muncy Borough Municipal Authority. This battle began about 20 months ago when some of the current Borough Council were seated by appointment and the majority changed leading to a change in the leadership.
With less than one week until our next Municipal election, I feel it is most urgent as the Chairman of the Muncy Borough Municipal Authority to bring the Borough residents and customers up to date on the very issues at hand. Unfortunately not all of our customers are going to have a chance to participate in the political implications at this election that will affect the future of their sewer and water systems and rates because they are not all Muncy Borough Residents. The customers and stake holders in the current Muncy Borough Municipal Authority are comprised of residents and businesses in both Muncy Borough and Muncy Creek Township. The current system was built by the rate payers and the assets of the Muncy Borough Municipal Authority belong to the rate payers.
The struggle began as the Muncy Borough Municipal Authority last year warned the Muncy Borough that their budgets and newly developed fiscal policies were not consistent with the agreements between the two entities and could have devastating impact upon the Muncy Borough Municipal Authority’s trustees. At the last year’s budget meetings the Authority told the Borough officials that we must hold them in full compliance as mandated by the rules and regulations of the Municipal Authorities Act and our Trustees. These requirements have given the Borough its drive to eliminate the Muncy Borough Municipal Authority before the next year, and thus have created a hostile working relationship between the two entities.
Throughout the past year there has been no cooperation by the Borough in resolving the issues, instead the Borough has done everything but try to work with the Authority. They have schemed up false issues of appointments to the Authority by insulting the years of service provided by the current and past members of the Muncy Borough Municipal Authority. The Authority has been in existence since the 1950’s and many fine residents have served on the Authority. Currently we have members on the Authority that served for more than 20 years each themselves, Mr. Jim Muffley and Mr. Harold Davis. The other members of the Authority currently serving are Mr. Dave Alexander with about 15 years of direct working knowledge of the Authority, Mr. Chuck Leonard though only recently appointed by the current Borough Council to the Authority has been in the business dealing with Municipal water and waste water for over 30 years. Myself Mr. Tom Gardner in my fifth year on the Authority with over 20 years of dealing with the industry, Mr. Galen Betzer a current council member who is one of the sole Council members that works with and understands the Authority and the seventh new member is Ms Karen Richards that was appointed only recently.
The efforts of the Authority have been distracted by the Borough council over the past year. Instead of allowing the Authority to do its job, we have had to battle several fronts with the Borough to protect the assets of the Authority. The monies of the Authority are the targets of the Borough. Throughout the last 5 decades, the Authority has kept the rates of the sewer and water well below the state average for these services, and had been diligent in its fiscal responsibilities by building a reserve of monies in its accounts. The accounts of the Authority are controlled by the Trustees of the Authority and they set limits on how much we are able to keep in reserve as well as how much we can invest. We have re-invested the bonds and other debts to keep the debt of the Authority as low as possible while keeping monies on hand for unexpected breakdowns and future projects such as our recent Water street pumping station that was paid for out of our special projects account that the Borough wants to assume.
During the past year there were also issues with the recent water projects on Main Street, Penn Street and Carpenter streets. The Borough manager who ran this project made several mistakes on this project including but not limited to permit filing, contract implementation, undisclosed agreements between the Borough and the Muncy Creek Township Supervisors and restoration. The Authority had to resolve at extra expense the potential litigation between the Borough and the Contractor costing the project tens of thousands of dollars of unnecessary expense due to the Borough managers handling of the project. The issues of this project have been also at the root of trouble between the two entities.
In 2005, the Muncy Borough Municipal Authority began to study the mandates being imposed by the Federal and State governments to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. We opted to do through a study known as an Act 537. We have been working on this study ever since, and have modified it in 2007 to look at the possibility of regionalization with surrounding communities. In 2007 the Borough Council approved this change in our study. In March we presented a possible option to the Council to work with Montgomery on a Regional approach. This option was not fully studied or defined at the time by the Authority, what we were asking for was a commitment from the Borough to look deeper into this option at an accelerated schedule because of the time frame mandate being set upon Montgomery by DEP.
Unfortunately it was either lack of understanding by the Borough on the issues of the Act 537 study, or an opportunity for the Borough to exploit the Authority as incompetent by creating a smoke screen on the important issues at hand in order to accomplish their own objectives. This has been an expensive undertaking by the Borough Council costing unneeded legal expenses that cost the Borough residences both in tax dollars and Utility expenses for extra Attorneys and Engineers.
With the Borough acting as an aggressor against the Authority, we have had to act to protect the interests and assets of the rate payers of the system. Throughout the past year we have tried to put off extra expenses, but were forced by the current Borough Council to take defensive action. The actions of the council led to several turnovers both in employees and council members themselves. The actions of several Borough council members working beyond their capacity as determined by the law put our local Government in a bad situation.
When the borough Billing administrator resigned, the Authority under legal guidance of their Solicitor, acted to protect the files of the Authority and its customers, and removed the computer hard drive to make a copy of it. This hard drive was returned a few days later. It is important to know that the Borough Council had previously changed all of the locks on the Authority, and we were locked out of our office and files.
As you can see the issues at hand go well beyond simple understanding. The Authority is working to keep your assets in the proper accounts, and to control the potential rising costs of our waste water system. We ask for your support and understanding in the matters at hand and urge you to question what you do not understand. Trust the entity of the Authority to handle your assets and future of our utility systems.
As borough residents, you have a voice in your system of government and it is important for you to understand what your officials are doing to you, not for you.
Muncy Borough Municipal Authority
Letter To Editor
To the editor:
As the November elections draw near, there seems to be a flurry of activity for everyone to support the election of their “favorite” candidate. Shouldn’t we, however, be looking not at our “favorites” or the ones who can be easiest controlled, but rather at the ones who are most capable of making intelligent and well-informed decisions? Government is not always known for making intelligent and well-informed decisions, so if we have the opportunity to support an intelligent group of people who are working hard to become informed and make good decisions for us as tax payers shouldn’t we seize the opportunity? I believe so. The current Borough Council of Muncy is just such a group.
After attending even a few of the Council meetings, it quickly becomes apparent that even at the local level, there are complex issues with which the Council must deal. These issues range from the very complex and expensive sewer project to unraveling a web of knots tied in personnel and financial issues within the borough itself over the years. It is important to keep in mind that these are people who have volunteered to expose their names (and families) to the sometimes unpleasant banter that ensues during an election. After being elected, they follow with countless hours in a volunteer situation learning the inner workings of a complex and thankless job. Often they are exposed, both publicly and privately, to rude and ignorant untruths and yet, they are expected to remain gracious and polite. And they do. What is NOT voluntary are the taxes that they must pay right along with the rest of us. It is imperative to remember that these people who are putting themselves on the line are tax payers just like the rest of us and thus should have our best interest at heart.
After attending even a few of the Council meetings, it has also become clear that this is a group of people who do their homework before they present information in a public meeting. Since they are a group of people who do their job with integrity, they often keep the grim and unpleasant details that probably should be made public within their executive sessions, presenting only what must be presented to the public. Because they choose to honor their integrity and not appear as “mud-slingers”, they often endure unfounded and unsubstantiated criticism. They need our support.
Voters of Muncy, take advantage of this rare opportunity you have been given. Realize that we have the good fortune to have in place an intelligent and honorable group of people who are willing to put themselves on the line working for the good of our community. Keep them in place. Learn the names of your current Borough Council members and vote for them as a group, even if it means using the write-in option as you vote. This is a rare chance to keep something good working our borough. Don’t miss it.