Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
LASA, Columbia weigh sewer deal
BY STEPHANIE BRADFORD, Correspondent
All parties involved in making a decision about the Columbia wastewater treatment plant met Thursday to discuss the option of the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority purchasing the entire system.
Participants in the work session, which was not open to public comment, were Columbia Borough Council, Borough Manager Norm Meiskey, Columbia Municipal Authority, staff and board members representing LASA and Ron Youtz, West Hempfield Township manager.
LASA's executive director, Mike Kyle, said deals between LASA and municipalities "usually (come) down to the numbers."
In this case, the numbers involved are the value of the system and the rates that will be charged if the deal goes through.
Currently, most Columbia residents and businesses pay higher rates than LASA charges -- approximately $42 a month verses $81.99 a quarter. But 38 percent of the customers pay the minimum flat fee of $19.44 per month.
Many residents of Columbia who pay the minimum flat fee are elderly, Meiskey said, and it's a "major concern" to keep rates equitable.
Kyle said rate changes could take five or 10 years.
Russell McIntosh, vice president of financial services for Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc., an engineering firm working with LASA, said authorities "have to charge reasonable and uniform rates -- by law."
Youtz said, "First and foremost, West Hempfield wants to get out of the sewer business."
If a deal is reached and the sale moves forward, it would take two to two-and-a-half years to fully implement.