Guridy said the public will have a chance to comment on the concession agreement before council votes on it.

In fact, Schweyer said six weeks will pass for the public to comment before council acts on approving any lease agreement.

Before council approves a contract, it intends to have the Pennsylvania Economy League investigate how the proposed lease agreement compares with having a newly created public water and sewer authority take over the water and sewer systems.

Eichenwald does not know what sending out another RFP will do to the administration’s timetable, but said Pawlowski wants to make sure the deal is completed “before citizens have a right to vote on it.”

On May 21, primary election day, Allentown voters will decide if City Council should adopt an ordinance that states a referendum should be held so future voters can decide if any city-owned assets worth more than $10 million should be sold, leased or transferred. Even if voters approve that ordinance in May, a lease of the sewer and water systems probably will be completed long before a referendum on that lease could be held in November.

As residents again raised questions about the proposed lease during council’s meeting, Gary Strathearn, the city’s finance director, expressed angry frustration about the issue of solving the city’s pension crisis.

“This is a very frustrating and painful thing,” said Strathearn. “I have to look at it every single day I come to work. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand how much time and effort we’ve put into researching how to do this the right way for the city and to protect the city.”

“We did do a lot of research on this,” he said. “We didn’t just rush into the water (lease). We looked at every aspect. We’ve done our homework on every possible thing. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out a way to beat this thing.”