Officials: Four bidders eyeing York City's wastewater treatment system

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
The City of York's wastewater treatment plant.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
John A. Pavoncello photo

York City received four bids from parties interested in purchasing its wastewater treatment system, a move said to be the only way to prevent tax hikes and job cuts, officials announced Thursday.

City officials would not disclose the names of the bidders, despite saying Wednesday they would do so. A committee composed of officials with Mayor Michael Helfrich's administration, city staff and City Council members is reviewing the proposals, according to the news release.

"The committee's recommendation will be publicly announced and formally presented to (York City) City Council and the York City Sewer Authority," the release stated.

More:Citing legal reasons, York City refuses meeting with local sewer authority

More:Helfrich's budget would hike York City taxes, cut police officers

It was not immediately clear when the city would release the names of bidders or disclose how much was offered for the system.

And while it is also unknown when a decision will be made to either accept a proposal or reject them all, officials hope to at least know whether selling the plant is a viable option by Friday.

The City Council's final scheduled meeting of the year is Tuesday, but officials can call a special meeting if needed.

The only known party interested in making an offer, at least for the wastewater treatment plant, is the York Area Regional Sewer Authority. But that offer is likely dead in the water.

Consisting of Manchester, West Manchester, Spring Garden and York townships and North York borough, the authority hoped to purchase only the plant. Therefore, it was unable to go through the city's request for proposals process.

On Wednesday, the authority criticized Helfrich for refusing to meet with the municipalities.

Helfrich fired back later that day, saying that meeting with the authority while the city is in the midst of the proposal process would be illegal and that the authority was trying to circumvent the process.

York City Council must approve a budget by Dec. 31, meaning officials have little time to waste in determining whether to sell the wastewater treatment system to any of the four bidders.

Officials have said that the payment would need to be substantial enough to pay off the the city's roughly $17 million share of the total $37 million worth of improvements to the system over the next 10 years.

In addition, it would need to provide for a 20% property tax decrease for residents.

If the plant isn't sold, the council would have to vote on a budget that proposes tax increases and cost-cutting measures to combat a $14 million budget.

As it now stands, the budget would boost property taxes by 9.25 mils. That would equate to a $925 annual tax increase on a home with an assessed value of $100,000.

It would also cut 27 positions, nine of which are for police officers.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.