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Tensions continue between Washington Township municipal authority, supervisors

November 21, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Ongoing tensions between the Washington Township Municipal Authority and some of the township's elected officials showed no signs of ending early this week.

The township supervisors met Monday and criticized aspects of the municipal authority's plans for a new building.

The municipal authority met Tuesday and questioned why some of the supervisors are demanding more detailed reports about the water and sewer systems.

"I don't know that we have other people smart enough to read the reports," said Jeff Geesaman, president of the municipal authority's board.

The municipal authority manages the township's water and sewer systems, generating its funding through bills for those services and not tax revenue. It remains partly under the auspices of the five-person board of elected township supervisors.

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Two supervisors, C. Stewart McCleaf and Paul Benchoff, also sit on the municipal authority's five-person board, which otherwise is comprised of non-elected residents.

The supervisors receive quarterly - and often monthly - reports about the status of WTMA projects and business, McCleaf said.

"They have had this information numerous times. They have had everything available to them that we get," Geesaman said.

Carroll Sturm, chairman of the supervisors, has been a vocal proponent of receiving more detailed reports about the systems.

Geesaman directed Sean McFarland, municipal authority manager, to "flood" the supervisors with reports even if the information requires training to interpret.

Combined, the municipal authority's board members have 66 years of experience. Member Warren Tomlinson recently announced his retirement after two decades, and, when asked about his future, Geesaman just responded that he is "disgusted."

The supervisors on Monday tabled the municipal authority's plans for a new 5,000-square-foot administrative building, saying they wanted more information about a nearby spring off Pa. 16. Some supervisors criticized the municipal authority for proposing to build near the spring when the authority is in the process of developing a wellhead protection ordinance to restrict future construction around water sources.

"WTMA should basically protect its own springs and not build right next to it," Supervisor Christopher Firme said, urging that the plan be abandoned.

No ordinance is in place, and the administrative building would be exempt anyway because it doesn't involve hazardous materials, according to McFarland.

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