OP-ED: Regional group to protest York City wastewater plant sale

Timothy R. James
York Area Regional Sewer Authority
The City of York's wastewater treatment plant.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
John A. Pavoncello photo

On Jan. 20, 2021, the York City Council approved a resolution to move forward with negotiations on the purchase of the York City Wastewater Treatment Plant by Pennsylvania-American Water for $235 million.

Council President Henry Nixon also indicated he was disappointed in the authority for not participating in the RFP process; however, the RFP was intentionally structured to prohibit bids for individual components of the system. When we asked to consider an alternative bid scenario so we could participate, the request was denied.

More:York City Council moves closer to wastewater sale

More:OP-ED: York’s brightest days are just ahead

The York Area Regional Sewer Authority has been steadfast on its goal of ensuring an outcome to the sale of the wastewater treatment system that was in the best interest of the city, its residents, and our community. While we are very disappointed that we were not given consideration or even a meeting to discuss our alternative local option, we have every intention of pursuing a solution that is in the best interest of all constituents. Therefore:

1. We will formally protest this transaction with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission as there are not sufficient public benefits.

2. Each member municipality will be re-examining their existing agreements with York City Sewer Authority to confirm whether there are additional legal grounds to pursue.

3. We will be examining all alternative options that may be available.

Again, we are disheartened it has come to this; however, the Mayor and City Council gave us no choice when they refused to meet with us and took an isolationist approach to the sale (so much so that they also kept the owner of the treatment plant — the York City Sewer Authority — out of the process and review).

As connected municipalities who contribute over 50 percent of the flow to the treatment plant, we at least deserved to have our voices heard.

— Timothy R. James is chairman of the York Area Regional Sewer Authority.