Logan’s proposal sensible
Logan Township’s desire for a seat on the Altoona Water Authority is a reasonable request, although the city can be excused for wanting to maintain total control, as it has throughout the authority’s existence.
But now, with a proposal in the works for the authority to purchase the township’s sewer system, it is logical that Logan sees an even greater justification than in the past for having representation on the decision-making body.
Then there are the 11 other municipalities outside the city and Logan that the authority currently serves with its water system. Including the city, the authority serves three municipalities with its sewer system.
If the authority were to grant Logan a seat, other municipalities currently being served might someday push for at least one seat to be filled by someone from within their borders.
It is hard to imagine city officials wanting to relinquish any semblance of control, although having a couple of non-city members wouldn’t shift authority control outside the city.
As for the authority’s proposed purchase of the Logan sewer system, a broader customer base would result, as well as additional revenue.
The township sewer system currently serves 5,300 customers. It has been pointed out that savings could be realized by decommissioning the township’s sewer plant at Pinecroft, after building a pump station and line so customers served now by the Pinecroft facility would begin being served by the authority’s Easterly Sewage Treatment plant on Old Sixth Avenue.
Mayor Matt Pacifico has noted the financial benefits of adding additional customers and has described the proposed purchase as an opportunity to add value to the current system.
If the purchase is completed as proposed, the township will be freed from the time-consuming responsibilities inherent in sewer-system operations.
As a Nov. 17 Mirror article reported, as late as 2011 it was not clear that Altoona City Council had the power to appoint non-city residents to the authority board. However, lawyers for the city and authority, plus a representative of the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association, subsequently determined that there was nothing in the state’s Municipality Authority Act to prevent it.
The only stipulation regarding a non-city appointment is that the person selected would have to be a taxpayer, maintain a business or be a citizen of an “outside” municipality served by the authority.
Considering Altoona’s continuing growth, it would seem beyond comprehension that a new authority membership complement would in any way be damaging to the authority and its customers.
The vibrant central Blair business corridor, encompassing a number of municipalities, has excelled because of cooperation and an otherwise positive spirit. Outside membership on the authority board, by itself, wouldn’t doom the authority to anything less.
Altoona has the right to continue controlling the authority; the authority began in the city and should remain under city control. But the transparency possible from opening the board to non-city residents would be a source of customer confidence to the farthest reaches of the sewer and water coverage area.