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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.

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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