OP-ED: Municipal cooperation is happening in York County

Bradley C. Jacobs
West Manchester Township
The City of York's wastewater treatment plant Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The York City Council on Tuesday approved the sale of its wastewater treatment system. Bill Kalina photo

An op-ed was recently published from Ron Ruman of West Manchester Township regarding the sale of the York City wastewater treatment plant. As a former supervisor from West Manchester Township, I agree that the suburban user municipalities should continue to oppose the sale and the associated rate hikes that will accompany it. I am also happy to see that the current Board of Supervisors at West Manchester Township have already taken this position from the onset of this issue to protect their residents from future excessive rate hikes. 

However, Mr. Ruman's op-ed goes on to state that this issue shows "how little ongoing cooperation and discussion of regional issues, and sharing of services, happen among these neighboring communities." I know from my prior 10 years (seven as chairman) of West Manchester Township Board of Supervisors and with some cursory research on current regional cooperation initiatives, that Mr. Ruman's opinion is misinformed and just not factual.  

The following is just a partial list of the types of intergovernmental cooperation efforts that have been going on in York County for years and is ever increasing. Municipalities share various emergency services through regional police departments and mutual aid agreements with fire departments. West Manchester Township specifically participates in the school resource officer program with the West York School District and the Metropolitan York Police Testing Consortium with nine other municipalities in the recruitment, testing and hiring of municipal police officers.

More:OP-ED: Wastewater plant spat highlights need for regional cooperation

More:York City Council OKs $235M wastewater plant deal

More:York City officials say opposition to wastewater sale won't thwart budget plans

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

In addition, West Manchester Township has representation on the York County Quick Response Team, which provides specialized, tactical police service to other departments for high-risk police situations. 

The West Manchester Township Fire Department has agreements with six municipalities to provide fire service if and when needed. There are also various joint purchasing consortiums for road services and insurance, such as the Intermunicipal Insurance Cooperative, which even extends to municipalities in Lancaster County. 

There is the sharing of information and facilities through organization such as the York County Municipal Administrators Association, the York County Zoning Officers Association, the Government Finance Officers Association and the York County Chiefs of Police Association that meet monthly to discuss issues of common interest. 

West Manchester participates in the York County Stormwater Consortium and the Regional Chesapeake Bay Pollutant Reduction Plan, the York Area Metropolitan Planning Organization for transportation planning and various other regional organizations such as the county-wide board of assessment and the Uniform Construction Code Board of Appeals. 

West Manchester Township participated in the drafting of the York County Economic Action Plan with the county and private businesses to help and provide a sustainable, equitable and dynamic economy that benefits all of York County and has a representative on the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors' Township Mangers' Committee to provide opinions and guidance on statewide municipal issues.

In additional to these, and several more, the township has many informal agreements with neighboring municipalities that benefit our township and its residents.

Many of these aforementioned efforts save time, save money, increase efficiency and generally provide a forum for the sharing of ideas and problem-solving, which is invaluable. I believe it is apparent that the municipalities Mr. Ruman references in his op-ed are already doing what he suggests and more and have been doing so with increasing frequency for years. 

There is always more that can be done, and I have faith that as in the past more and more cooperative efforts will continue to emerge where they make sense for each participating municipality. It is just uniformed or disingenuous to say otherwise.