Another special meeting was to be held so Dan Koplish, the city’s former manager of water resources who has been hired by council as a consultant, could explain how the new contract will meet water quality standards. Guridy now says Koplish will make his report at the same meeting where the mayor recommends a winning bid to council and introduces the winning concessionaire.
The administration intended to receive bids from six pre-qualified bidders by today -- March 21. But that has been postponed until March 28, council members told Poresky. They did not give a reason for that postponement. Guridy said the bids will be opened in Harrisburg.
Fegley said council should ask PFM and the administration to redo PFM’s report on leasing the sewer and water systems to solve Allentown’s pension crisis because the numbers changed when the final request for proposals was sent out by the city. He said the original PFM report no longer is valid and should be redone.
City Clerk Michael Hanlon said PFM will be redoing numbers, as Fegley suggested, and the Pennsylvania Economy League will review those numbers. “Those will be discussed by council at a public meeting,” said Hanlon.
After Poresky asked City Council several questions about what will happen next, Eichenwald said: “It has to be infinitely clear by now, after all of these months, that in all honesty we will just be presented with a number. And we raise our hands yes or no.
“As diligent as I have tried to be, City Council unfortunately will not be involved in the negotiations. The seven decision-makers are not involved intimately with the process. It’s flawed, from the very beginning till now. I’m sure my fellow council people will say they’ve had their questions answered. I have not had my questions answered to any degree of satisfaction.”
But O’Connell said “I don’t know if it’s a foregone conclusion that we won’t be involved. I want to be involved as much as possible to make a thorough decision on what’s going to affect the city in the future. I personally will push to be involved as much as I can be.”
Resident Ernie Atiyeh asked City Council to “give us some time. These are some very big decisions. I don’t think we should rush into this thing. A lot of questions have come up we don’t have answers for. Give us 30, 60, 90 days to review this whole thing, get the questions out and have a dialogue back and forth.”
On another subject during the meeting, resident Ken Heffentrager said Allentown owns hundreds of city properties that are not used. He said the city is losing property taxes by retaining ownership of such buildings for more than a decade. He said one city-owned property on 7th Street has been dormant for 17 years.
Heffentrager said in the 300 block of N. 9th Street, the city owns 14 of 22 condemned buildings.
Eichenwald agreed all those properties should go back on the tax rolls.