STORMWATER AUTHORITY LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP
REGULAR MEETING JANUARY 9, 2020
The following were in ATTENDANCE:
STORMWATER AUTHORITY BOARD TOWNSHIP PERSONNEL
Gordon E. Wilson, Chairman Rebecca Davis, MS4 Coordinator
Timothy Johnson, Vice Chairman Thomas Vernau, Township Manager
Lloyd Bucher, Treasurer Steven P. Miner, Solicitor
Alison J Shuler, Secretary Julie Echterling, Recording Secretary
Richard Schin, Assistant Treasurer
ALSO IN ATTENDANCE
Mr. Steven P. Miner, LATSA Solicitor.
Chairman Wilson called the January 9, 2020 Regular Meeting of the Stormwater Authority to order at 7:54 pm. He announced that Proof of Publication was available for review. Mrs. Echterling completed a Roll Call. Mrs. Alison Shuler was reappointed and sworn in before the meeting.
Mrs. Shuler had some edits to the minutes and provided them to Mrs. Davis. Mr. Schin asked if Exhibit B should be attached to the December 5, 2019 minutes. Solicitor Miner explained that wasn’t necessary as Exhibit B would be enacted tonight and then be part of this meeting’s minutes.
Mr. Schin moved to approve the minutes from the December 5, 2019 meeting of the Stormwater Authority. Mr. Bucher seconded the motion. Motion carried 5-0.
Mr. Vernau asked if he could address the Board in Executive Session. Chairman Wilson responded that would be fine. There was no audience participation.
Solicitor Miner reminded the board Exhibit B was discussed at the last meeting. He explained the purpose of Exhibit B is to begin collection activity and allow for accounting of the legal service costs. He asked for approval for Resolution 2020-A-01 so when delinquent accounts are referred to him, he can properly add costs to the account. The Board asked if the fees had changed since they last meeting in Exhibit B. Mrs. Davis stated the insufficient funds was charged from $25 to $30 to match sewer and other utility fees in the Township. No other fees were changed from last month.
Mrs. Shuler moved to approve Resolution 2020-A-01. Mr. Schin seconded the motion. Motion carried 5-0.
Solicitor Miner reminded the Board the Peiffer Arboretum stormwater appeal will be heard in the Court of Common Pleas on January 13th. He explained this will be more like a pre-trail conference. The Township Secretary certified the record from the Board of Commission hearing, and he believes there shouldn’t be any additional testimony. Mrs. Davis will go with him and have exhibits, if needed. He hopes the judge will look at the evidence and decide the matter that way. He spoke about the evidence included in his letter. Being he is unfamiliar with the judge’s background, he submitted a pretrial memo to explain the issue. He encouraged the Board to attend and stated it may be a quick hearing, based on what he discussed and provided to the court. Chairman Wilson asked if anyone else from the Township would attend, including Mr. Flint. Mrs. Davis stated she will attend as will Commissioner Schin. Solicitor Miner stated Mr. Flint isn’t needed since he (Mr. Miner) doesn’t need two witnesses stating the same facts.
Mr. Bucher stated revenues for the year were $1,210,525 and noted there were several large accounts not collected. He reported the expenditures were $279,516.11, leaving a balance of $931,010. Mr. Schin asked if Sten Services were for the secretary or hearings. Mrs. Davis responded they were for the hearings. Mr. Bucher asked if Mrs. Davis’ salary was in the expenditures. Mrs. Davis noted it isn’t itemized but is probably in the General Fund lump sum. She offered to get a detailed itemized expense from Mr. Grove. She stated Mr. Grove will have the final reconciliation for transfers for the March meeting.
Mr. Schin moved to approve the LATSA Financial Report. Vice Chairman Johnson seconded the motion. Motion carried 5-0.
Mrs. Shuler stated it looks like there is over $1,000,000 in revenues unpaid. We know we don’t have these revenues. She isn’t sure how to resolve this. Mr. Bucher thought there should be a reserve for uncollectibles. Mr. Schin noted this represents billed revenues. Mrs. Davis spoke about the delinquency process for the third and fourth quarters; i.e., the lien process and the potential fees outlined in Exhibit B. She noted there are three large accounts, which are from state agencies, in these numbers. Thinking of a reserve mentioned by Mr. Bucher, Chairman Wilson asked if we need any type of insurance, as required for the Wastewater Authority? Mr. Vernau responded no. Referring to the state agency uncollectables, he noted it isn’t settled on whether the state agencies have to pay. He noted if these large accounts are written off, it will trigger an audit comment. He further noted it could take years to go through the courts and it can’t be kept on the books until it is settled in court. He noted the audit comment would be that you shouldn’t bill for services you can’t collect. He agreed with having a reserve but wasn’t sure now is the time.
Chairman Wilson commented that it isn’t consistent that the prison pays for sewer but doesn’t pay the Stormwater fees. Mr. Vernau stated they consider it a tax versus a fee and won’t pay. He reported meeting Representative Delozier and a representative from State Senator Regan’s office. They believe the Commonwealth doesn’t have the monies to pay the fees. He believes there should be a class action suit from the municipalities. As an aside, he noted the state of Maryland is about to sue the state for Chesapeake Bay Initiative noncompliance. He spoke about the EPA and lawsuits and the difficulties of related fees and costs. He stated the bottom line is they are trying to get the state to reduce Township costs; or, chip in toward the costs. He will meet with Hampden Township who is having similar issues with the Navy base. He noted that Representative Delozier stated if they have to pay the fees, they will take it out of the liquid fuels. Chairman Wilson spoke about the potential of educating the media about this issue. Mr. Vernau spoke about a COG initiative and subcommittee to address such an issue.
MS4 COORDINATOR REPORT – REBECCA DAVIS:
Lower Allen Township Stormwater Authority – Credit and Appeal Summary
She stated there were no credit or appeal applications submitted since the December 5, 2019 meeting.
Stormwater Fee Meeting Summary
She stated they have been working with COG and came up with an action plan regarding the state and federal governments. Mr. Schin asked about goal number four of the Action Plan for COG pertaining to compromise. Mrs. Davis said when they spoke with Representative Delozier it was suggested we may need to compromise rather than spending so much on litigation. Mr. Bucher asked what were the stormwater issues with the 581 ramp construction. Mr. Vernau stated they were addressed. He spoke about how DEP tests water and Yellow Breeches which could be from the highway runoff. He opined maybe reduced fees, or a project completed by the state would be helpful.
Mr. Schin asked about the Salzman Hughes Law Office mentioned in the COG report. Mrs. Davis spoke about an article that they authored about a lawsuit and how agencies have fought the railroad and won in another state. She believes it is a good idea to reach out to them to gain any insight. Mr. Schin asked who will be following through with this plan. Mr. Vernau stated the COG would be working through it. Chairman Wilson spoke about this being a good idea and what really counts are actions, not the bureaucratic process. Mr. Schin believes the COG initiative is the right step. Mr. Vernau spoke about how Franklin County has refused to do anything on MS4 until it is settled in the state. He asked a State Senator who has already had a subcommittee on stormwater to have one here to address how the state isn’t meeting its responsibilities on this issue. Mr. Schin offered the opinion that if we ask our residents to do these things then we should expect the state to do so also. Chairman Wilson asked that since the state is thumbing their nose at the EPA, couldn’t the municipalities do that also? Mr. Vernau mentioned that not doing stormwater compliance resulted in fines of $70,000 for Swatara. Mrs. Davis spoke about the Township having an MS4 permit and meeting the permit obligations through projects and compliance for the past 15 years.
Grant Application Summary
Mrs. Davis provided a grant application summary. She noted there are 10 projects with six on private and four on the Township property. She spoke about the two grants awarded which will be going out to bid soon. She explained about grants applied for including the most recent one awarded for the Moreland Basin.
WIP Meeting Invitation
Mrs. Davis noted there is a Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) kickoff meeting on January 29, 2020. She discussed about the goals of this Plan and the projects that will be used to meet the county’s share of statewide pollution reduction targets by 2025. She explained it is an open meeting and she and Mr. Flint will be attending.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS PERTINENT TO THE AUTHORITY:
There was no additional business discussed.
Chairman Wilson adjourned the Stormwater Authority meeting at 8:32 pm and called for an Executive Session. He directed that the record reflect that, by invitation, Township manager Vernau will sit in on the session.