Plymouth Council Mulls Sewer System Sale; Decision "By The End of Year"
At the Council meeting which took place on October 14, there was a discussion during the public comment part of the township meeting regarding if Plymouth Township will sell its aging sewer system. The idea of selling the sewer system was floated by Council (pun intended) as a means to raise revenue to pay for extensive renovations (new building) of the township building during a Township meeting in September of 2018. You can see the agenda here. You can read the minutes from the meeting here. There has been no public discussion of the urgent issue since the September 2018 meeting.
Council Chair Marty Higgins (D) revealed the Council has five options that have been priced out in regards to renovating or rebuilding the township building and how those renovations could be paid for or financed. Higgins stated they have the information they need and will inform us of their decision shortly regarding the sale of the sewer system, adding we will be the first to know. Higgins made no mention if the public will be able to review those said options and offer opinions as to what would be best for the Township before the decision is made.
The final decision will come before the end of the year. Karen Bramblett (D) added the Township will need revenue as taxes have not been raised in 27 years and the services offered by Plymouth Township are unmatched by anyone else. Councilwomen Lenore Bruno (R) said nothing during this conversation. Councilman Dave Gannon (D) said nothing during this conversation. Councilman Chris Manero (D) is the only member to definitively state he is against selling the sewer system, adding he thinks the Township continuing to operate at a non-profit level would be better for our residents.
In doing research on this topic an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer tracked the recent rash of sales of local sewer systems as permitted under Act 12. The article profiles several townships who have sold their sewer systems, what they did with the money and how the residents have been impacted by such a sale. In all of the cases they highlight, sewer rates increased anywhere from 84% -115% once the so-called "rate freeze" expired. The townships built parks, paved roads and several coincidentally built new township buildings. You can read the article here and you should.
The Inquirer article highlights Chester who is bankrupt and was forced, by court order, to sell its sewer system to pay debtors.
You can watch the October 2019 meeting here. At 32:10 the conversation of the sewer sale starts. At 34:20 Vice-Chair Chris Manero speaks about being against selling the Plymouth Township Sewer System but acknowledges either taxes or sewer rates need to go up in order to pay for the level of services to be maintained. 37:18 Karen Bramblett speaks to not raising taxes for 27 years and how something is going to change.
To learn more about the renovations needed at the Township building click here. The next township meeting will take place Monday, November 11, 2019, at 7 pm.
You can learn more about Plymouth Township Council here.