3 Pottsgroves Want ‘Seat’ At Pottstown Authority Table

SANATOGA PA – Lower, Upper and West Pottsgrove townships and their taxpayers shell out millions of dollars every year for sewer and water services supplied by the borough of Pottstown. And, for years, the borough authority alone has made many of the decisions that affect future capital investments in those systems, and distributed their costs among its clients.

3 Pottsgroves Want 'Seat' At Pottstown Authority TableUsers’ payments for services certainly will continue. Capital improvements likely will continue too. But, according to Lower Pottsgrove Manager Rodney Hawthorne, the practice the Pottsgroves most want to change is unilateral decision-making.

“We want a say. We’d like to have seats at the table,” Hawthorne told members of the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners last Monday (April 1, 2013).

[box type="note" size="large" style="rounded"]The Lower Pottsgrove Authority is scheduled to conduct a meeting tonight (Monday, April 8, 2013) beginning at 7 in the township municipal building, 2199 Buchert Rd., Sanatoga. It is open to the public.[/box]

To that end, Hawthorne said, representatives of the townships’ individual authorities and the borough authority have scheduled a meeting for April 16 (Tuesday) 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.

At issue as well, the Lower Pottsgrove Authority’s February (2013) minutes show, are persistent concerns the townships have raised over their individual sewer service agreements with Pottstown, and what they perceive as a need for third-party oversight of the borough’s waste water treatment plant and financial billing.

The April 16 meeting is, at least on the surface, a follow-up to the townships’ official written response to Borough Manager Mark Flanders about what he laid out months ago as the authority’s next 5-year plan for capital projects at its plant.

On a deeper level, though, according to Lower Pottsgrove authority minutes, tensions over how the Pottsgroves believe they have been treated by the borough have existed for much longer, and need to be aired and resolved. Flanders isn’t being caught by surprise. He and members of Pottstown’s authority and Borough Council have heard the complaints before, and they were repeated in the Pottsgroves’ letter.

The Pottsgroves also are conducting some research to bolster their positions on Pottstown authority operations. Bursich Associates of Sanatoga has been hired, at a cost of $5,000, to create a study that compares Pottstown’s finances and systems to two others of similar size: the Lower Perkiomen Valley Regional Sewer Authority and the Downingtown Area Regional Authority.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ April 1 meeting):