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No plans to assess New Kensington water system

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

New Kensington council members indicated they have no immediate intention of seeking an appraisal of the city's water authority.

Ron Balla Jr., an authority employee, requested an appraisal during Wednesday's council meeting.

Balla said he believes city officials have a “fiduciary responsibility” to appraise the authority and know its worth when fielding offers from potential buyers. A year ago, the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County offered New Kensington $32 million for the city's water system.

However, city officials said they never seriously discussed the offer and have no plans to sell the authority.

Furthermore, attorneys for the city and the city authority believe approval for a sale would be needed from all communities served by the authority, which includes Arnold, Lower Burrell, Plum and Upper Burrell and Washington townships.

Mayor Tom Guzzo said that until a sale is a real consideration, he can't justify paying an estimated $20,000 for an appraisal.

“That is more than the salary of one person who works at city hall,” Guzzo said.

Should a sale be actively pursued, Guzzo said, getting an appraisal would be one of the first steps.

Councilman John Regoli said he remains open to the idea of selling the authority but said the price offered by the county was not acceptable.

Regoli said he believes the authority is an asset that can help pave the way for future development if a sale generates enough money and is put in a trust with only the interest being spent.

Balla said that that's why he thinks the city should investigate the authority's worth.

“There is no other avenue that can generate that kind of revenue (for the city),” Balla said. “That's a pretty big stone that needs to be turned over.”

In other business:

• Guzzo announced the promotion of police Officer Sam Long to sergeant.

“I'm very proud of the job he does everyday,” Guzzo said of Long, who was hired in 2008 and is an Army veteran.

• The traffic study for Virginia Drive is nearly complete.

Guzzo said representatives from Wooster and Associates, the engineering firm hired to conduct the study, are scheduled to meet next week with several Virginia Drive residents to ensure their concerns are included.

Once the study is completed, council will review it and determine what steps to take to address residents' concerns about excess traffic and speeding.

• Council scheduled trick-or-treat activities for 5:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 31.

Guzzo said some neighborhoods may choose to have Halloween activities another day, but Oct. 31 is when the city will pool its resources and have extra police, firefighters and neighborhood watch groups out in force to make sure trick-or-treat goes smoothly.

• Council canceled the Nov. 6 meeting because of the general election.

The meeting has not been rescheduled. If a November meeting is deemed necessary, city officials will announce and advertise the date.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or

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