Lehigh Valley

Administration responds to claims water/sewer revenues could offset pension costs

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - An opponent of the proposal to lease Allentown's water and sewer systems claimed during Wednesday's City Council meeting that he had been advised that the city can utilize its current water and sewer revenues to offset the city's burgeoning pension costs. 

Resident Dan Poresky told council he had been advised by the executive director of the Pennsylvania Local Government Commission that, under Allentown's Home Rule Charter, the city would be exempted from state laws that prevent the use of public works revenues for other purposes. 

Thursday afternoon, Allentown Associate City Solicitor John Marchetto released the following response:   

"The city has conducted an exhaustive legal analysis of its plans regarding the city's water and sewer systems."

"The adoption of a Home Rule Charter removes the city of Allentown from the operation of the Third Class City Code only.  Other laws of statewide application still apply to the city of Allentown.  One example, the Sewer Rental Act, which does not apply to private operators, prohibits the city from using funds from its operation of the sewer system for any purpose other than the city's sewer system."

"One opponent at last night's City Council meeting, citing the Pennsylvania Local Government Commission, claimed the city could use such fees to the fund the city's Minimal Municipal Obligation for its pension plans.  It is clear that the Sewer Rental Act was not considered in the opponent's analysis."

"The Pennsylvania Local Government Commission is an advisory body that is not authorized to issue binding legal opinions, especially based solely on the oral representations of a single individual." 

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