Farmington Township to PAWC proposal ‘Let's talk'

Sale of water and sewerage systems could help Knox Township

By Rodney L. Sherman

CLARION NEWS Editor

LEEPER

Farmington Township supervisors Matt Sherbine and Dave Crise had a simple answer this month to an inquiry from Pennsylvania-American Water Co. concerning the township's water and sewerage systems.

"Let's talk," said Sherbine.

At the board of supervisors' Sept. 4 meeting (supervisor Chuck Gilbert was absent), Sherbine read a brief email letter from Jon C. Natale, manager of business development for PAW.

"Recently, I have been in discussions with Knox Township representatives regarding a proposed sewer line extension," Natale wrote. "In the course of considering all available regional options, I am reaching out to Farmington Township to determine if there may be interest in a water and sewer acquisition proposal from Pennsylvania American Water.

"This would just be a proposal and would not commit the township in any way."

In August, PAW spokesperson Gary Lobaugh confirmed PAW is talking to the Knox Township Municipal Authority about a potential sewerage system in the Lucinda area.

Knox Township is under a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection mandate to establish a public sewerage system.

In mid-August, Lobaugh told the CLARION NEWS, "Constructing a new wastewater system and its continued maintenance would likely be a large financial burden on the citizens of Knox Township.

"One potential solution in discussion is to extend service from our existing regional system into the township."

Pennsylvania American Water provides wastewater service to the following Clarion County communities: Clarion and Shippenville boroughs, and Clarion, Monroe, Paint and Elk Townships.

The Farmington Township sewerage system extends south from Leeper to about the area of Vince's Tavern along State Route 66.

From that area to Lucinda along State Route 66 is about five miles and includes the Snydersburg area.

The Farmington Township sewage treatment plant has the capacity to handle the projected Lucinda service area.

Also, all obligations connected to the Farmington Township system in regard to past construction grants have been met.

Farmington Township is carrying about $4 million in debt on the water and sewerage systems.

"I recognize the numerous challenges facing water and sewerage service providers and strongly believe that PAW can provide a reasonable solution to those challenges in most situations," wrote Natale. "By conducting an evaluation of the township's systems, PAW could confirm if it could provide a reasonable proposal for the township consideration."

Sherbine asked the few township residents in attendance what they thought of the idea.

Larry Bauer offered a burst of applause.

"I think it would be prudent to hear their proposal," added Scott Sauerland.

"I think it's the best news I've heard all year," said Sherbine. "I would recommend we reply with ‘Let's talk,' and see what they have to say."

A meeting time and date was not immediately set.

Billing change

In another water and sewerage related matter, Sherbine and Crise approved a change in billing services.

For the past four years, Farmington Township has used services provided by Diversified Technology of Bloomsburg for water and sewerage service billing.

"We've started to have some problems with them and the cost has gone up," said Sherbine.

Sherbine and Crise agreed to contract with Muni-Link Billing of Bellwood for the services.

The move puts the billing back "in-house," with support from Muni-Link.

Township secretary Robin Kahle said the township's information would be stored in "the cloud," making it inaccessible to hackers.

Sherbine said that can be important as the township's computer was hacked in early 2017. The hacker demanded $1,847 via credit card money order to release the computer's files.

The ransomer said if the township did not pay the amount within five days and the township did not the ransom would increase to $3,400.

In the end, the township did not pay the ransom and most records but not all were recovered.

The Muni-Link service will cost the township a base fee of $3,900 per year plus about $300 per month in postage fees.

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