By Nancy Johnson
At the outset, Penn Township's Aug. 7 Board of Supervisors meeting appeared reminiscent of the previous month's meeting. In July, the supervisors opened the two bids for the township's wastewater treatment plant, read the offers of $3,250,000 and $2,263,000, and announced that they would take no action until their solicitor had thoroughly reviewed the bids.
Since that meeting in July, on the advice of their solicitor, Sam McMichael, the supervisors turned down both bids and put the plant out for bid again. Again, the same two companies submitted bids, but this time, Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc., came in at $3,688,000, while Pennsylvania American Water Company's bid was $3,250,000.
The board excused themselves and headed to the back room for an executive session with McMichael to review the bids. Upon their return 15 minutes later, Curtis Mason, the chairman of the board, explained, "It's a bidding process and we have to do what's best for the township." He then fielded a few questions.
An audience member asked how much ground was with the sewer plant and if it would be included in the sale. Mason confirmed that there are 69 acres and that the land would go with the wastewater treatment plant. "We considered leasing the land, but that would put liability on us, and that's what we are trying to get away from," he said.
The supervisors wasted no time in voting unanimously, with Robin Marcello absent, to accept the bid from Aqua Pennsylvania.
In addition to the purchase price of $3,688,000, Aqua added an incentive of a $35,000 contribution to closing costs. Aqua also bested the other bidder in terms of a rate guarantee. Aqua's proposal would guarantee a locked sewer rate until March 31, 2017, as compared to the January 2016 date set in the Pennsylvania American Water bid. After the locked-rate period expires, the state's Public Utility Commission must approve increases.
In other business, the board heard a request from the YMCA to reduce the scope of an original expansion plan and retain the right to continue, making it a phased plan.
While the supervisors said they could not grant this request, since they were concerned that it could set a precedent and impact other projects in the township, they did agree that when the YMCA submits new plans, the approval process could be streamlined through a preliminary/final approval.
The next board of supervisors meeting, slated for Sept. 4, was canceled. Penn's ninth annual Picnic and Health & Wellness Fair will be held at the township's community park on Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit www.penntownship.us for more information.