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Derry may sell municipal authority

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Derry Borough Council again will gauge interest and public opinion regarding the sale of the borough municipal authority to the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

An “informational meeting” between council President Kristine Melville, Vice President Joe Morton and MAWC officials ignited a series of accusations at council's June meeting.

“We wanted to bring this into an open discussion amongst council members, because what we're looking at right now with deficits and everything else with the budget, if there's a chance we can bring ourselves out of it and still have the service available, I think we'd be foolish not to look at it,” Morton said.

Because of the borough's looming budget crunch, council agreed to explore the option of selling the municipal authority.

Council voted 6-0 to request the municipal authority's quarterly treasurer's reports for the past two years and to contact MAWC for information on a potential sale.

Councilman Allen Skopp, chairman of the Derry authority's board of directors, was absent.

According to council, the borough authority denied MAWC's request for its financial records earlier this year. MAWC would need to review those records and appraise Derry's infrastructure before making an offer to purchase the authority.

“There's a possibility that we could get some decent money out of this to where we could start expanding public works, the police department,” Morton said. “… Every time (the Derry authority) expands, they get more and more debt incurred. … I don't really consider them as an asset anymore. I consider them a liability.”

Morton said MAWC water and sewer rates are available online. Council agreed to schedule a town hall meeting after more information is received from MAWC.

“Since that involves the entire town, I think we need a really nice, big town hall meeting to get citizens' input,” councilman Chad Fabian said.

In other business, council:

• Voted to pay Tresco Paving Inc. in full but under protest for paving work that damaged traffic-sensor loops at the intersection of Y Street and Second Avenue. Council met with a representative from the company during executive session on Oct. 7 after voting to withhold a portion of the $11,469.52 final payment.

• Voted to accept the resignation of Patrice Kebler from the planning commission. The commission has only one member and two vacancies, preventing it from convening until a vacancy is filled.

• Voted to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to install handicapped-accessible sidewalks throughout the borough. Council member Nelie Smith opposed the motion, citing concerns over the borough's ability to provide matching funds for the grant.

• Recognized Jessica Checca, who donated a kidney to her father, Al Checca, as the first Mayor's Humanitarian Award recipient.

• Heard from Boy Scouts from Troop 352 in Hillside and Troop 340 in the borough who are offering to assist with projects in the borough.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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