The mayor of Scranton calls it the most significant asset his city still has but the Scranton Sewer Authority could soon be sold.
Details of a $195 million sale emerged Tuesday afternoon at a public meeting at Marywood University.
Even though the plans were just being made public many taxpayers were already there to voice their opposition.
First and foremost, the proposed deal would most likely mean that customers will be paying more.
According to the sales agreement, customers would see an average increase of just under two-percent each year over the next ten years.
That had several people in the crowd at Tuesday’s public meeting saying it’s a deal they just can’t afford.
“I think this smells bad,” Scranton taxpayer Marie Schumacher said.
Scranton and Dunmore taxpayers joined forced as they spoke out against the proposed sale of the Scranton Sewer Authority.
“Those monies belong to the rate-payer and it doesn’t belong to anybody else!” Bob Hogan of Dunmore said.
After about two years of study and negotiation, the Scranton Sewer Authority may be sold to American Water. That is the parent company of Pennsylvania American Water.
The sales price: $195 million.
Scranton and Dunmore would split approximately $120-$130 million once debt is paid off.
“I think that $195 million is considerably short on really what the value of the authority is,” Scranton taxpayer Lee Morgan said.
The financially-challenged city of Scranton is particularly interested in the sale.
Mayor Bill Courtright promises, if the deal is approved, he would use the money responsibly as an investment.
“I will only use the money to meet the city’s long-term obligations and invest in infrastructure that is critical for the city’s ongoing prosperity and growth,” Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright said at a news conference prior to the sales agreement being announced.
The Scranton Sewer Authority is widely regarded as the most significant asset the city currently has.
“I think it’s short-sighted to do what is going to be done. The city of Scranton has to find answers to the problems it has without selling any more of our assets,” Morgan said.
The Scranton Sewer Authority could vote on the proposed sale within 30 days but many customers say that is simply rushing the sales through and they want at least 90 days to be able to look over the deal.
“We need time to review the information that this board has had,” Schumacher said.
The mayor of Scranton says the cost to sewer rate-payers would most likely be less than if nothing was done because of federal obligations that must be paid for in the coming years.
Scranton and Dunmore would most likely split the sale profits on an 80-to-20 scale according to one board member.