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12-1-2022 Meeting Minutes

Stormwater Authority
12-1-2022 Meeting Minutes


The following were in ATTENDANCE:
Timothy Johnson, Chairman Rebecca Davis, Public Works Director
Lloyd Bucher, Vice Chairman Steven P. Miner, LATSA Solicitor
Alison J Shuler, Secretary Rick Grove, Finance Director
Richard Schin, Treasurer Renee’ Greenawalt, Recording Secretary
Robert Edwards Commissioner Joshua Nagy

Chairman Johnson called the December 1, 2022, Regular Meeting of the Lower Allen Township Stormwater Authority to order at 7:55 pm.  He announced the meeting had been duly advertised for publication.  The recording secretary called the roll.

Ms. SHULER made the motion to approve the minutes from the November 3, 2022, Regular Meeting. Mr. EDWARDS seconded the motion. The motion to approve the minutes carried 5-0.

There was none.

There was none.


LATSA Financial Reports:
Mr. Schin reported the November 21, 2022, cash balance of the Fund was $3,414,019, an increase of $131,035 since the prior meeting.

Below is a summary report of Stormwater billing accounts deemed “Uncollectable” with total balances through 11/21/2022. These balances include past due principal amounts plus penalties through the last billing period (2022-Q4). Late penalties for 2022-Q4 are reflected in the figures.

Delinquent accounts

Property Owner Accts Balance
Commonwealth of PA 8 $8,085
PennDOT 4 $847,114
PA Turnpike 1 $102,990
PA Industrial School (SCI/Prison) 1 $303,345
TOTALS 14 $1,261,534

Mr. SCHIN motioned to approve the Treasurer’s Report.  Ms. SHULER seconded the motion. The motion carried 5-0.

There were no transfers to report for this period.


Stormwater Fee Credit and Appeals Monthly Report
Director Davis reported no submissions since the prior meeting.

Stormwater Authority Collections Agreement, Presentation and Proposed Ordinance
Director Davis noted that a revised “Agreement for Collection of Delinquent Municipal Claims on behalf of Lower Allen Township Stormwater Authority” had been reviewed by Mr. Miner and was included in the meeting packet for review.

Next, Director Davis introduced the next agenda item for consideration and discussion, which is a change to the collection process and the potential to outsource collections. She explained that due to staffing changes, the township is unable to effectively keep up with the pace of the collections responsibilities and would benefit from outsourcing the functions to the firm of Portnoff Law Associates, which specializes in municipal collections and can offer hardship options.

Director Davis presented further details regarding utility collections for refuse and stormwater fees, including an overview of the fee assessment, definition of delinquency and enforcement options, including property liens. She also reviewed the current process for collections and described the challenges facing staff in handling the process. She noted that outsourcing collections would shift all the delinquent costs to the property owner and allow for collection and remittance of 100% of the delinquent claims. It would minimize staff time spent on pursuing collection of the delinquent accounts. Some of the benefits of outsourcing the collections would include the reduction of phone call and correspondence time in negotiating payment plans, more timely collections, and a better level of customer service.

Director Grove explained that recent staffing changes necessitated the consideration of this action, to save labor hours and accomplish the necessary task of collecting delinquent accounts. With the part-time replacement of a of transferred full-time employee serving Finance, Human Resources and Stormwater, the goal is now to maintain current customer service levels with fewer labor hours.  This can be done by moving assistance with the delinquent refuse and stormwater process from Caldwell Kearns to unqualified collection by Portnoff Law Associates, LTD.

Director Grove noted that the steps for collections would remain the same but with greater efficiency by outsourcing to Portnoff Law Associates. He also described all costs and total legal fees. Approximately 240 or more labor hours are saved by outsourcing versus the need to hire back another full-time position. Portnoff would also offer a higher level of service for residents. Director Grove noted the goal for implementation was January 1, 2023.

This transition must be implemented by ordinance; therefore, staff is requesting permission to advertise Ordinance 2022-08.  Contingent upon authorization by the Board of Commissioners, the Stormwater authority would amend the fee schedule.

Mr. Schin and Ms. Shuler expressed concerns that outsourcing the collections might be perceived as impersonal and poor customer service by residents. Director Grove explained that solving the issue through additional hiring would cost significantly more to the township and may not address the lack of expertise in this area. Township staff personnel wear many hats and resources are not available to have a full-time staff person dedicated solely to collections.

Members engaged in a discussion about property liens for delinquent accounts, which is not always effective in collecting the overdue amounts. Director Grove noted that the process would not change, and the township would still retain the ability to assess liens. The issue is the improving the process and timing for working through the delinquent collections.

It was also noted that even if the Authority did not approve outsourcing for the collection of stormwater fees, the township would likely move ahead to outsource for refuse fees.

Mr. Bucher noted he would be more comfortable if neighboring municipalities were using the proposed law firm for their processes.

Director Davis emphasized that managing the delinquent accounts imposes an administrative hardship on township staff, who lack the expertise in collections. It also places an undue burden on taxpayers who pay on time and should not shoulder the burden for those who do not.

Mr. Edwards noted his support for outsourcing, acknowledging the need and the drain on township resources. Mr. Johnson also expressed support, noting that by outsourcing, the community is served the services they deserve by allowing staff to do their jobs and focus on other areas.

Ms. Shuler acknowledged the fiduciary responsibility of the Stormwater Authority but noted the decision was ultimately up to the Board of Commissioners. Mr. Bucher agreed. Director Davis reported that the Board of Commissioners had voted to advertise the ordinance related to outsourcing the collections.

Members reached consensus to wait for the decision by the Board of Commissioners and act on the resolution and agreement at their next meeting on January 5, 2023.

There was none.

The Regular Meeting of the Stormwater Authority adjourned at 8:52 p.m.