Council Debates Future of Public Works and Municipal Authority

While Collegeville and Trappe are in agreement that Public Works and CTMA should be merged, views differ on how to do that.

At its Oct. 2 monthly meeting, Trappe Borough Council discussed a resolution, proposed by Collegeville Borough, that would eliminate the current Collegeville-Trappe Joint Public Works Department (CTJPWD) and put all of its duties under Collegeville Trappe Municipal Authority (CTMA).

Currently, the Collegeville/Trappe Joint Public Works Department provides public water and other services to both boroughs, and the Collegeville/Trappe Municipal Authority provides sanitary sewer services. Both offices are located at 220 W. First Ave.

Solicitor David Onorato offered a historical background, saying this issue has been discussed many times over the years. The intention in the 1990’s was to dissolve CTMA, which owns the public sewer system, when its debt was retired. Collegeville Borough now wishes to dissolve Public Works instead.

“This resolution before us, if adopted, would transfer the assets and obligations of Public Works to CTMA,” said Onorato. “There would be a lengthy process to accomplish this task, and this resolution would begin that process.”

Councilman Lewis DiPrete questioned the legality of the public works department, noting that CTMA operates under the rules of the Municipal Authority Act of PA. Onorato said that public works is a joint committee with no legal basis.

Public Works employees are currently covered under Collegeville Borough for their pension plan, for which the borough receives state money.

Council members had varying views on the resolution.

“The benefits to combining the two would be that both boroughs would save time and money,” said Councilman Paul Edwards. “We would only need one audit, one insurance policy, less time at monthly meetings, fewer banking fees and one solicitor.”

Councilman Nevin Scholl said the consolidation will be costly in the long run, and will take power out of residents' hands.

“In going in this direction, we would be sacrificing funding from the state (for the pensions), in the range of $20,000-40,000 per year,” said Scholl. "We are also moving responsibilities off the shoulders of the public onto the shoulders of those who do not face the voters. I think that is a step in the wrong direction."

Council President Fred Schuetz minimized the economical impact to residents.

"There’s no question that $20,000 is a lot of money, but with 2800 rate payers in the community, we are looking at a quarterly cost of $1.90,"Schuetz said.

Councilwoman Tammy Liberi wanted more information before passing the resolution.

“We need more information,” said Liberi. “In business we don't make decisions based on opinions about facts, we make them based on the facts. We need the facts.

Edwards stated that Collegeville is adamant to move toward CTMA as the authority.

"I understand why, because there have been issues in the past and they don't want to go back to those issues," Edwards said.  He agreed, believing it to be a more efficient way to provide services.

“Personally, I don’t agree,” said Councilwoman Cathy Johnson.

The council decided to seek out more information such as costs associated with each option and whether public works employees could continue with their work duties.

In a related motion, Trappe Borough approved the employment terms and conditions of the director of Public Works, which included a slight raise. Two council members voted against the motion, one saying it is “inappropriate to give a raise to the leader when the union contract is not negotiated.”

The public is invited to comment on these issues at the next Trappe Borough meeting to be held Tuesday, November 13.

bigchief October 12, 2012 at 01:32 PM
trappe boro wants all the power again. thats why they turn down local police department years ago
Jack Minster October 12, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Did you even attend this meeting, bigchief? CTMA was chartered to get dissolved after a limited time. Collegeville and Trappe designed it that way. Now, instead of sticking to that wise plan, Collegeville wants to fold Joint Public Works into CTMA, stripping control from elected officials in both municipalities placing it in the hands of six unnamed appointees, causing Trappe to incur costs and lose $20K to $40K annually in state pension benefits, with no say in our water/sewer rates moving forward. Why? And why should Trappe fund Collegeville's police department when Trappe buys effective additional coverage by the State Police? Three members of Trappe Council want to do the smart thing, the business-like thing, and run a thorough cost-benefit analysis of Collegeville's dictum. Maybe it's a wise move, maybe it's foolish, but making a costly sweeping move without first studying it thoroughly is a violation of the trust voters place in elected leaders. You try managing a business that way and what will that get you? Fired. Perhaps Collegeville Council should've presented a well-considered business case to Trappe Council instead of dictating to them that they need to just vote yes, and the four members of Trappe Council willing to just vote yes should've presented Trappe Council and voters with a well-reasoned factual justification for the big move, what do you say, bigchief?
Steven Kurcik October 12, 2012 at 03:58 PM
My name is Steven Kurcik, and I had the privilege to serve on Trappe Borough council from 2006 to 2009. We, Trappe Borough sued Collegeville to dissolve CTMA back in 2007 or 2008, which was the plan from the beginning when it was created back in the early 90's. This has not been settled since. NOW, Collegeville wants the oppisite to occur, dissolve public works and roll it into CTMA. WHY? What is at stake here for Collegeville? AND WHY would the elected officials of Trappe just go along for another expensive ride with Collegeville? Let's not reinvent the wheel here. Many municipalities around us have been down this road already. And I KNOW that our solicitor has been involved in some of these municipalities. Let's do some reseach and find out about the decisions they made, and why. Both boroughs agree that one entity needs to go to save the rate payers money. The disagreement lies in which one should stay and which one should go. And bigchief, this is not about power. It is about doing the right thing and making the best decision for the rate payers of Collegeville and Trappe. This is a serious issue, and we the rate payers deserve the BEST DECISION. I do not have money to throw away, neither does Collegeville or Trappe borough. Bring a damn fact to the discussion and stop hiding behind an alias.
JT October 12, 2012 at 11:59 PM
How about reporting on the real story. How long have the public works employees worked under a expired contract? How much taxpayer money has been wasted paying a professional negotiator to do what every other township manager does? Has anyone inquired into the past history of the negotiator, William McCauley. I urge you to google him. The path of chaos this guy has accomplished is rather impressive, all at the expense of the residents. Why hasn’t either council told the truth? http://www.phillyburbs.com/my_town/bristol/layoffs-cuts-in-hours-for-bristol-twp-employees/article_3b974f4e-8401-5e21-b6fd-c2e39c2951b5.html
Steven Kurcik October 15, 2012 at 07:51 PM
JT, I would have to strongly disagree that the expired contract is the real story here. Do you really think that the handful, what is it six employees are more important than thousands of rate payers? We do not know what the union negotiators are asking for in the new contract, and maybe those emloyees should consider getting rid of the union, as they have been treated fairly in the past. We need to keep the cost down to the rate payers of Collegeville and Trappe. It is one of the few things in our control and the proper research and decisions should be made.
JT October 15, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Steven, If it’s savings your looking for I find it odd that a pricey fast talking negotiator was brought in. After all, there is not one but two managers that should have been given this task, right? Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t a manager handle this in the past? As you stated, “ the handful, what is it six employees are more important than thousands of rate payers?” Where was your concern for the rate payers when a wasteful, frivolous negotiator was given a blank check? Indeed there is more to this story then what was reported.
Steven Kurcik October 15, 2012 at 11:20 PM
JT,when I was on council we had our solicitor and the solicitor from Collegeville nogotiating with the union. When the current administration took over the majority in 2008, the solicitors were removed and the borough managers were place to nogatiate with the union. The union negotiators dragged things out until yhey got their way with the borough managers. In my opinion this was a big mistake. The union THUGS ( Not talking about our public works employees) BUT THE THUGS congradulated each other and themselves because they were able to take advantage of the borough managers and TWO BOROUGH COUNCILS THAT WERE AND STILL ARE COMPROMISED. Our manager at the time had no or very little experience in this field. We in Trappe were under the impression that Collegevilles manager was not going to give the sun moon and stars to the union because he had the police union to deal with next. And once the police union sees what the public works were asking for and got,they would want the same in their next contract. The employees are going to cost us no matter what, we tried to save the boroughs some money by wanting to shop their health care plan WITHOUT CUTTING ANY OF THEIR BENEFITS. This was our goal at the time and it was strongly resisted. WE NEVER SAID OR INTENDED TO SUB THIS WORK OUT OR BRING IN A COMPANY TO RUN THE WATER OPERATIONS, NEVER. Our rates are the lowest around, and they should be.
Steven Kurcik October 15, 2012 at 11:22 PM
JT, The rate payers of the two boroughs own the water operations and everything associated with them. The sewer operations are a different story because we are a member of a larger authority that includes large townships with deep pockets.
Steven Kurcik October 15, 2012 at 11:30 PM
JT, To get back to the first union contract, a lie was put out by the King or Queen of Collegeville saying that we in Trappe wanted to sub this work out. NOT THE CASE, EVER. We wanted to keep cost in check, because that is what we are, conservatives. Not like the RINO's who run as republicans and than want to spend every penny they can get their hands on and more. I heard the current president of Trappe council say that a couple of the public works employees are like grandsons to him, EXCUSE ME. Maybe he should have removed himself from this vote and any vote concerning these contracts. But this is how politics operate at this time in Trappe. Don't care if you believe me, or even who you may be BECAUSE THESE ARE FACTS MY FRIEND.
JT October 16, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Steven. I did not ask for a history lesson on politics of Collegeville/Trappe. But thank you for proving my initial point that there are other motivations behind not inking a deal. I highly doubt the pasts managers “gave the sun, moon and stars”. The fact is managers bounce around from township to borough etc. No council or board worth their salt would hire a union pandering manager. It just doesn’t happen my friend and you should give them the credit their due. Your police comment shows how uneducated and/or uninformed you are. See they have this little thing called binding arbitration, so riding the coattails of the public works contract is not necessary. Sounds to me you have a political axe to grind or a financial stake in this. CARE TO COME CLEAN? See my shift button works too!
Steven Kurcik October 16, 2012 at 01:00 AM
JT, you started with, what is the real story. This article talks about CTMA and Joint Public Works and merging them into one. You brought up the union contract. That, I would imagine is being nogatiated behind closed doors and we the public will find out some details when it is finalized. I am sure they will get what is due them and it will be retroactive. I care about the residents of Trappe and the rate payers of both boroughs, that is what is at stake for me. Did not mean to bore you with a history lesson. My hands are clean when it comes to a financial stake in this borough or in the operations of public works. I served this borough for four years, and being a passionate person, I put my heart into the things I get involved with. I work and am able to take care of myself, don't need a handout or bribe from any branch of government or those involved in it. Never served in the military, so I saw this as an opportunity to give back. Council members in Trappe do not get paid and give alot of time and effort to this borough. My God is able and willing to provide for me also, and I am able to stand before him in judgement with a clean heart and conscious for the things I have done serving Trappe. I am not the most educated person in the room, but believe when I hear both sides of an issue, a proper decision can be made with common sense. The comment about the future police contract came from the borough manager of Collegeville during the first union contract negotiations.
Steven Kurcik October 16, 2012 at 01:06 AM
JT, it seems like this is an important issue to you also. And wanted to know what is at stake for you here? Maybe you are aware of things going on that we are not privy to. You can see who I am, ain't hiding from no one and my phone number is in the phone book. No problem coming clean when you have nothing to hide. If I am guilty of anything it is caring to much and expecting the same from others.
JT October 16, 2012 at 01:22 AM
If you care about your community as much as you say (and I do believe your sincere) you will research Mr. William McCauley. Someone that cares as much as you about their town would not want this man involved in shaping the infrastructure. You mentioned facts in a previous post, I urge you to seek the facts about McCauley. Him receiving one dollar from the rate payers you so fondly mentioned is too much. Any God fearing man would be appalled by his ability to destroy a community. My motivation is simple he destroyed the town I served.
Steven Kurcik October 16, 2012 at 01:47 AM
JT, thank you for your comments and I will check it out. Unfortunately I am not in a position to do anything about it except express my opinion here or at a public meeting, which I have no problem doing. I attended the last meeting, and they really struck a nerve with me. Sounds like in the end we agree on something. But who this current administration is throwing away money to is on them, and they will have to stand in judgment on their decisions. I will check out the link, but will have to save my comments for the next meeting. And than maybe we can have another discussion here.
JT October 16, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Fair enough Steven. I’ll offer up one more tidbit for you to think about. http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=5272527
Andrew J Curtis III October 16, 2012 at 11:33 AM
What does Trappe Borough pay to buy police service from the State Police? I am also interested in state police average response time as opposed to the average response time of area local departments. Do the state police enforce Trappe's local ordinances? How much time is spent by the state police patrolling Trappe Borough. I have lived in the boroughs for many years and the history of bickering and the struggle for power goes back many, many years. And, it is ridiculous. The tug of war involves every and any issue. Cooperation would save many tax dollars but it has been totally lacking. The fly in the ointment is almost always placed there by Trappe Borough.


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