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Washington Township weighs takeover of municipal authority

January 17, 2008|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Washington Township Supervisors are considering meeting with an attorney to transform the Washington Township Municipal Authority from a municipal authority into a lease-back authority, Chairman Carroll Sturm said Wednesday.

"All employees would then be township employees," Sturm said.

The new authority would have to pay the township to oversee sewer and water operations in the township.

The supervisors are considering meeting next month with attorney Peter Edelman, of Reading, Pa., who is an expert on municipal authorities, according to Sturm.

During a work session Wednesday, Supervisor Stephen Kulla asked Sturm what is allowed to be authorized by the chairman of the board without the authority of the entire body.

Kulla was referring to Sturm directing Solicitor John Lisko to contact an attorney about the WTMA.

"What authority did you have that you could have directed John Lisko without consulting the board?" asked Kulla, who is an attorney.

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Sturm said that any of the supervisors can contact Lisko to get answers to questions because he is the township's legal counsel and he knows a lot of different lawyers. He said he was simply gathering information.

"It looks like a lot was moved forward, asking to set up a meeting (with an attorney)," Kulla said. "What the chairman proposed was setting up a meeting, using our solicitor (and) using tax dollars."

Sturm has been openly critical of the WTMA for the past several months. He questioned past engineering practices and the board's planning for the future. He and other supervisors have criticized the WTMA for not flow-testing fire hydrants in recent years, a practice that is expected to resume soon under the guidance of the WTMA's new manager.

Sturm and other supervisors have said that WTMA has not been open with information requested by the board. In response, some WTMA members have accused Sturm of being controlling and said they had given him all the information he requested.

Sturm tried to have himself appointed to the WTMA board, but the supervisors instead appointed Lori Frantz, a local farmer, earlier this month.

"We still are their governing body," Sturm said of the WTMA, which is a five-person authority board.

"But there's a differing of opinion on that," Kulla said. "They say you have no authority on them after you appoint them."

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