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Hamiltonban mulls treatment plant sale

Richard D. L. Fulton

The Hamiltonban Township Board of Supervisors will be consulting their solicitor regarding an pending agreement that would pave the way for the sale of two neighboring municipal wastewater treatment facilities.

Aqua America, which bills itself as a "leading provider of drinking water and wastewater services for nearly three million people in 13 states," is seeking to purchase Hamiltonban’s Orrtanna wastewater treatment plant, muled with the acquisition of Franklin Township’s wastewater facility.

While the Franklin Township facility is relatively new, the operation comes with "an awful lot of debt," township Board of Supervisors Vice chairwoman Coleen N. Reamer noted at the board’s Aug. 25 work session. The debt was incurred by Franklin Township in order to build the facility.

On the other hand, Hamiltonban’s Orrtanna treatment plant’s indebtedness is nearly paid off, but the plant is under the gun of the state Department of Environmental Protection to implement expensive upgrades.

"Ours is old (but is) more viable for them (Aqua America) because there isn’t all that debt," Reamer stated. However, the vice chairwoman stated, the Franklin Township facility’s debt "may not be that big of a deal to them (Aqua America) ."

A draft agreement between Hamiltonban and Franklin townships and Aqua America is under consideration for signing, but a question raised regarding one of the stipulations resulted in the board opting for input from township Solicitor Matthew Battersby, who does not normally attend the work sessions.

The point of contention refers to whether or not either township would have to provide plans to Aqua of any intended new construction even after one or both municipalities should pull out of the deal.

None of the parties would be committed to the agreement if either provides a 30-day notice of their intent to pullout of the deal, and a signed agreement would also have to be followed by a resolution, and ultimately an ordinance to consummate.

Hamiltonban Township Municipal Authority Chairwoman Laura Morgan asked the board what assurance there is that the properties involved would be fairly assessed as to their true values for purposes of the proposed sale. Reamer stated, "There will be a bench mark (for relative value)" established.

Littlestown Borough recently rejected an offer proposed by Aqua America to acquire that municipality’s water service, supervisors Chairman Robert L. Gordon.

Regarding Aqua America’s interest in acquiring the Hamiltonban and Franklin wastewater facilities, Supervisor Harry Rood said, "I think they are interested in more than just these two plant" for future expansion, but, he said, "That’s none of our business.

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