Reynoldsville council reverses decision to dissolve the water authority

In a long meeting that included an hour-long executive session, the Reynoldsville Borough Council took care of business at its regular meeting on May 20, including reversing its decision to dissolve the Reynoldsville Water Authority.

Gordon (l) and Venture (r)

Before that action was taken, council heard from Jeff Gordon, the solicitor for the water authority, and James Venture, Jr., of PVE, which provides engineering services for the authority.

In his address, Gordon said the council had the right to do what it did, but it had to be done in the proper fashion. For example, he said the authority’s debt has to be resolved first. The Reynoldsville Water Authority’s debt totals $1.7 million dollars, more than twice the amount it has in the bank. If the borough were to take over that debt, it could put future borough project financing in jeopardy.

“I think you (the council) should think long and hard about the debt you’d be taking on and how that would affect your ability to borrow going forward,” he said.

Gordon added that since the authority provides services to some residents in Winslow Township, if the borough were to take over, the Public Utility Commission could get involved.

Venture, who also agreed that council could do what it did, voiced his concern about the dozen or so permits that are currently held by the water and sewer authority, issued by state and federal regulators.

“So by extinguishing the authority, what you essentially have done is you no longer have permits to operate the water and sewer plant,” he warned council.

There is also the fact that the water plant is in the process of being upgraded, Venture pointed out, which further complicates the matter.

Both Venture and Gordon warned council about the cost and time it would take to meet state and federal requirements. They encouraged the board to rescind the previous motion and approach the situation cautiously. They also had high praise for the people currently operating the system

With that in mind, council later went into an executive session for what it described as legal matters. After almost an hour, which included council member Billy Cebulskie having to leave the session due to an ambulance call, council returned and entertained a motion to rescind resolution 5-6-2020-1, which dissolved the authority, with the intent to revisit the matter once all legal issues were resolved. Darren Scolese made that motion, and it was seconded by Mike Popson. The motion was carried with council president Bill Cebulskie voting in favor and John Burkett and Robin McMillan abstaining.

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