Future of Chester Water Authority is murky

Future of Chester Water Authority is murky
In May, the Chester Water Authority (CWA) unanimously rejected a $250 million unsolicited acquisition offer from Aqua America after receiving the proposal May 8. In an Oct. 26 letter written to CWA Board Chair Cynthia Leitzell, Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland opened up a new threat to the future of the authority, stating the city had the right to “reclaim and transfer operation of the authority’s assets” and to “dissolve the authority.” It is widely believed the city, struggling to get out from under its Act 47 state designation as a distressed city, would like to use revenue from a possible sale of the water authority to bolters its shaky finances. Leitzell responded by penning a letter that stated the city of Chester does not have the ability to dissolve the authority, saying: “The Authority is no longer an asset of the city, but rather of present and future ratepayers throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, particularly following the 2012 amendments to the Municipal Authorities Act.” The CWA does not receive funds from the city; however, it has given more than $13.5 million to the city since 1996. CWA Solicitor Frank Catania has been questioning why Chester’s financial oversight group, Econsult, was considering a sale of the CWA more than a year before Aqua made its bid. CWA officials have been attempting to obtain Right-to-Know information from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), but they have received only partial information that was heavily redacted. The Act 47 Recovery Plan requires the city to eliminate its budget deficit and address its funding deficit by May 2018. The Chester Water Authority itself is not in financial distress. The next meeting of the Chester Water Authority will be on Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 2 p.m., at Neumann University’s Rocco Abessinio Building, 1 Neumann Dr., Aston.
Source: Daily Times; 11/4/2017

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