A final decision is made to merge the Muncy and Montgomery Sewer Authority
MONTGOMERY – It was nearly a unanimous vote last Tuesday evening when the new West Branch Regional Sewer Authority was voted on to take effect. Representatives from Muncy Creek, Muncy Borough, Montgomery and Clinton Townships came together for a final public hearing before voting on regionalizing their sewer system into a joint authority.
Twenty three members were on the panel. All voted yes except for Vivian Daly from Muncy Borough and Richard Bitler from Muncy Creek. The decision was made in 45 minutes.
About 30 people attended the public hearing at the Clinton Township Fire Hall in Montgomery. Jens H. Damgaard, an attorney with the Harrisburg law firm of Rhoads & Sinon explained the hearing process required by the Municipalities Act from 1945. It called for a need for local entities for a public corporation to undertake a wide variety of projects such as a municipal sewer. Daily said she voted against the merger because specific sewer projects aren’t indicated by the new ordinance. Daily expressed concern about what specific projects will be involved. Bitler did not express why he opposed the merger during the hearing.
The newly incorporated sewer authority of 8 appointed representatives can set rates, borrow money, pay creditors, service customers, attract government funding through available grants and loans and pull together resources with other agencies such as DEP explained Damgaard. “This will mean stronger lending power,” he continued. “The authority can have a maximum of 40 years and have authority to take on projects for the ordinances.”
Doreen Decker, Facility Manager for Springs Window Fashions asked how the board members were chosen and if elected officials can also serve on the authority board. “Two members from each municipality will be appointed. Elected officials could serve but could have conflicting issues under certain circumstances,” Damgaard said. “Public meetings must be held for public comments. Municipalities all have a say.”
A fully operated sewer authority will have shared ownership and all existing authorities have to be listed. “This is the first official joint action across the river related to sewage,” said Eric Moore, Engineering Services Manager with Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority. “There’s been too much money spent on the duplication of services.”
“This decision to merge confirmed two years of community planning by the municipalities and the three authorities,” said William Kelly, Deputy Director of Planning and Community Development.
“The municipalities own the assets, ” said Kelly. “A lot of hard work determined the best fit for the whole region,” he added.
Six months of work groups and meetings with DEP and County Planning took place to determine last Tuesday’s final decision. A grant application was submitted the first of July to the Commonwealth Finance Authority in Harrisburg to help with plant construction.
The new board members are Lynn Crist and Richard Miller, Montgomery Borough; Thomas Gardner and Charles Leonard, Muncy Borough; David Eakin and Edward Shrimp, Clinton Township and Leon Liggitt and Teri Snyder, Muncy Creek Township.
A site location will be determined along the Rt. 405 corridor to build a new sewer plant. Projected costs will be close to 20 million. The two existing sewage plants for Muncy and Montgomery are over 50 years old according to Kelly. Muncy and Montgomery authorities will be overseeing just water operations.
The new board is scheduled to meet August 24 at Koppers building in Montgomery.