In response to public outcry over its decision to dissolve the Reading Area Water Authority, the Reading City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Monday night that it will not consider the sale or privatization of the system.
Council President Francis Acosta presented Resolution 77 as follows: “The City of Reading City Council has not and will not consider the sale or privatization of the [water] system, now or in the future.”
Council members explained that the purpose of this resolution is to put citizens’ concerns over privatization of the water system to rest.
During his discussion of the resolution, Acosta also explained the council's goals for the water system.
In the coming weeks, the council intends to identify the value of the water system and to design a lease to include terms to protect the water system, both in the short and long term.
The lease will provide for water rate controls, will ensure full city ownership and control and will include the retention of the RAWA “rank and file employees.”
Acosta further explained that the Reading City Council is not currently considering a request for proposal (RFP) that will require a large up-front payment, but instead payments that will help the city to pay off debt and to make improvements.
The council is currently working on options for the 2015 budget that do not compromise city control and ownership of the water system.
Councilwoman Donna Reed stated, “I hope this formal declaration enables people who have concerns to understand where we stand.”
Councilman Jeffrey Waldman confirmed that he is against an RFP, or any other process that would add further debt to the water system.
While no decisions have been announced about the future of the water system, Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz maintained, “We recognize the importance of keeping public assets in public control.”