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Shaler, Hampton officials recognized for teamwork

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Lt. Governor Jim Cawley David Shutter, Pres., Chair of the Board, Shaler Twp. Victor Son, Pres. of Council, Hampton Township; Sam Scarfone, Exec Director Hampton/Shaler Water Authority; Christopher Lochner, Municipal Manger, Hampton Township; Tim Rogers, Manager, Shaler Township; Rep. Hal English; Sen. Randy Valakovitch; and Champ Holman, Deputy Secretary, Office of Community Affairs and Development, Department of Community and Economic Development

Hampton and Shaler officials drove to Harrisburg last week to take a bow at the state Capitol — and share hors d'oeuvres with Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley — for establishing a water bureau to benefit both townships.

Hampton and Shaler recently won a 2013 Governor's Award for Local Government Excellence for establishing Hampton Shaler Water Authority.

“This is an example where you have cooperation among various parties that results in a win-win situation,” said Michael Foreman of the Governor's Center for Local Government Services, an office within the Pennsylvania Department of Economic and Community Development.

Eight leaders of Pennsylvania local governments, and 12 Pennsylvania communities, are getting 2013 Governor's Awards for Local Government Excellence.

The state honored Hampton and Shaler for exemplary “intergovernmental cooperation,” during an April 16 ceremony and reception.

Hampton Township Manager Chris Lochner — he nominated Hampton and Shaler for a Governor's Award — attended the plaque presentation with Vic Son, president of Hampton Council; Tim Rogers, manager of Shaler Township; Dave Shutter, chairman of the Shaler Board of Commissioners; and Sam Scarfone, executive director the water authority.

Hampton Council and the Shaler commissioners — both elected panels — formed the autonomous Hampton Shaler Water Authority in 2011 to ensure revenue for Shaler's water treatment system, and to stabilize water rates for Hampton — and Shaler — consumers.

“They (Shaler) had the (water) supply. We (Hampton) had the customers. It worked out well,” said Scarfone.

Shaler used to manage its water treatment system as part of the municipal budget.

Hampton used to buy water from Shaler, then bill Hampton residents for Shaler water.

“We were both looking for a way to control (water) rates,” Rogers said

The authority now taps, treats and delivers water and issues water bills to both Hampton and Shaler residents, although some Hampton residents still receive water from West View Water Authority.

The authority's administrative and maintenance staffs both work out of quarters in Hampton's municipal complex on McCully Road.

A five-member board of directors — all appointed by Hampton and Shaler elected officials — oversees the authority.

“We really do want the authority to operate on its own, without having political influence,” Son said

The authority operates with 39 employees and a $7.5 million annual budget. It claims about 24,000 customers and provides water for about 65,000 people, according to Scarfone.

“We get the water from a series of wells along the banks of the Allegheny River, just south of the 62nd Street Bridge. We don't draw water from the Allegheny River,” Scarfone said.

“I personally think it's among the best tasting (water) in the area.”

A few years ago, Hampton explored the idea of tapping and treating its own underground water, before opting to partner with Shaler for water service.

“They (Hampton) avoided having to build a multi-million dollar water treatment plant,” Rogers said.

Establishment of the authority also spared Shaler the loss of consumers for its water.

“Had I lost Hampton, I would have lost the largest bulk of water customers that we had, and that would have driven up my overhead costs,” Rogers said.

Hampton Shaler Water Authority began serving the two townships in January 2012.

“This is a model agreement for municipalities, cities, towns and boroughs. You could use the template for fire and police protection and other community services,” said James Fisher of Shaler, constituent relations specialist for state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler, and a member of the authority's board of directors.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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