Local Municipal Ownership
Saves You Money

Sale of York City’s Wastewater (Sewer) Treatment Plant
impacts city residents and businesses

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Background on the Sale

On July 10, 2020, the City of York solicited bids from investor-owned utilities to purchase the York City Sewer Authority’s sewage collection system, interceptors, and wastewater treatment plant. The City has awarded the sale to PA American Water for $235 million. If approved by the York City Sewer Authority, this investor-owned utility will own and operate the City’s collection system as well as the treatment plant, and bill residents and business owners for sewer service.

The York Area Regional Sewer Authority was formed in response to information that the City of York was considering this sale. The Regional Authority is comprised of five municipalities that utilize the City system and whose residents would be impacted by the sale. The member municipalities include: West Manchester Township, Spring Garden Township, Manchester Township, York Township, and the North York Borough.

To provide an investor-owned public utility the anticipated return on its $235 million investment, rates must increase to pay for this purchase and provide a return to its shareholders. The current proposal by PA American Water is to freeze rates for three years for City residents only. All customers outside of the city (including residents/businesses in the municipalities and boroughs of the Regional Authority) are not included in this rate freeze. Furthermore, as a state-wide public utility, PA American Water would be allowed to raise rates throughout its entire service area to pay for future purchases and upgrades in other parts of the state. The current rate agreements with York City Sewer Authority are not transferable to PA American Water; therefore, customers in the Regional Authority’s municipalities are subject to tremendous uncertainty.

The members of the Regional Authority are passionate individuals with over 200 years of combined experience who have deep roots in our community and care about the constituents they serve. In response to this sale, we have compiled a team with decades of financial, engineering, and legal talent. Unfortunately, we have been left out, left in the dark and thus left with no choice but to protest this sale to protect the communities we serve.

IMPACT ON BUSINESSES

Sewer rates could significantly increase year over year. As a result, loss of economic development opportunity could occur as these investor-owned companies are accountable to their shareholders, not the community.

IMPACT ON CITIZENS

Sewer rates could significantly increase year over year as these investor-owned companies are accountable to their shareholders, not the community.

Frequently Asked Questions

The York Area Regional Sewer Authority was formed in response to information the City of York was considering selling the wastewater treatment plant. The Regional Authority is comprised of five municipalities that utilize the city system and whose residents would be impacted as a result of a sale.

The Regional Authority’s sole purpose is to own and operate the wastewater treatment plant to maintain local control as well as keep rates for residents and businesses low. The sale of the wastewater treatment plant to York Area Regional Sewer Authority is in the community’s best interest. An authority provides local ownership and accountability. This provides for a heightened sensitivity to utility rates and annual increases. An authority is accountable to its customers, not its investors.

  • West Manchester Township
  • Spring Garden Township
  • Manchester Township
  • York Township
  • North York Borough

While West York also leverages the city wastewater treatment plant for overflow services, they are not included in the Regional Authority because they are owned by a private entity and not managed by a municipality. York City is also not involved due to the City leadership directly overseeing the sale. Other municipalities are not primary users of the wastewater treatment plant and if they do use it, only use in emergency situations.

Based on the parameters of the RFP distributed, the Regional Authority did not meet the requirements to submit a response as bid documents only allowed for the purchase of all assets and the Regional Authority’s focus is only on purchase of the wastewater treatment plant. When the City was asked to consider an alternative bid scenario that would allow for bids to purchase only part of the assets, this request was denied.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the answer and you would need to ask the Mayor. Our multiple requests have been denied as he has been advised by his attorneys not to meet with us. We want him to know we only want what is in the best interest of the city and its residents which is to maintain local control of the wastewater treatment plant in order to avoid rate increases.

The sale of the wastewater treatment plant to the Regional Authority is in the community’s best interest.  An authority provides local ownership and accountability.  This provides for a heightened sensitivity to utility rates and annual increases.  An authority is accountable to its customers, not its investors.

The Regional Authority municipalities understand and appreciate the financial pressures the City of York is feeling. The Regional Authority intends to provide much needed capital to the City through this transaction but balance that with the future control and operational cost associated with the wastewater treatment plant. The sale of a publicly owned asset is a one-time opportunity. We also believe it’s in the best interest of all parties the City become a member* of the Authority and maintain an equal vote in order to represent the best interests of its residents and business owners. The City would have an equal seat and voice to influence future management and operation of the wastewater treatment plant.

The transfer of the wastewater treatment plant to the Regional Authority is in the community’s best interest. An authority provides local ownership and accountability. This provides for a heightened sensitivity to utility rates and annual increases. An authority is accountable to its customers, not its investors.

In sum, the Regional Authority will provide invaluable financial assistance to the City and allow it to maintain the voice of City residents and businesses through maintaining local authority control.

In order to avoid the “Doomsday Budget” crisis the Mayor and the City of York is experiencing, the Regional Authority can purchase the treatment plant at a fair market price in the next 60-90 days giving the City the financial resources to meet its financial obligations (where as an investor-owned purchase would not be finalized until 2022).

To provide an investor-owned public utility the anticipated return on its $235 million investment, rates must increase to pay for this purchase and provide a return to its shareholders. The current proposal by PA American Water is to freeze rates for three years for City residents only. All customers outside of the city (including residents/businesses in the municipalities and boroughs of the Regional Authority) are not included in this rate freeze. Furthermore, as a state-wide public utility, PA American Water would be allowed to raise rates throughout its entire service area to pay for future purchases and upgrades in other parts of the state. The current rate agreements with York City Sewer Authority are not transferable to PA American Water; therefore, customers in the Regional Authority’s municipalities are subject to tremendous uncertainty.

The members of the Regional Authority are passionate individuals with over 200 years of combined experience who have deep roots in our community and care about the constituents they serve. In response to this sale, we have compiled a team with decades of financial, engineering, and legal talent. Unfortunately, we have been left out, left in the dark and thus left with no choice but to protest this sale to protect the communities we serve.

To provide an investor-owned public utility the anticipated return on its $235 million investment, rates must increase to pay for this purchase and provide a return to its shareholders. The current proposal by PA American Water is to freeze rates for three years for City residents only. All customers outside of the city (including residents/businesses in the municipalities and boroughs of the Regional Authority) are not included in this rate freeze. Furthermore, as a state-wide public utility, PA American Water would be allowed to raise rates throughout its entire service area to pay for future purchases and upgrades in other parts of the state.

The current rate agreements with York City Sewer Authority are not transferable to PA American Water; therefore, customers in the Regional Authority’s municipalities are subject to tremendous uncertainty. Will you be subject to immediate rate increases and not be protected until new agreements are finalized? Neither the City nor the York City Sewer Authority has explained how they intend to address these existing sewer agreements with the municipalities and boroughs of the Regional Authority (despite the fact we will apparently be asked to pay for half of the bill for the $235 million purchase price, we have been left in the dark).

The Regional Authority is ready and willing to purchase the treatment plant for a fair market value that will benefit the City, City residents, and the communities we serve. A purchase by the Regional Authority will provide more rate certainty, local ownership and accountability which results in a heightened sensitivity to utility rates and annual increases. The people impacted by this purchase live in our communities, which is why the Regional Authority is also looking into customer assistance programs that could help our neighbors in their time of need. An authority is accountable to its customers, not its investors.

The members of the Regional Authority are passionate individuals with over 200 years of combined experience who have deep roots in our community and care about the constituents they serve. In response to this sale, we have compiled a team with decades of financial, engineering, and legal talent. Unfortunately, we have been left out, left in the dark and thus left with no choice but to protest this sale to protect the communities we serve.

In addition to the PUC protest, the Regional Authority is considering all options when it comes to next steps, including moving flow to other systems and other opportunities that may be available. All the Regional Authority has wanted from the beginning was a fair outcome for the City, city residents, and the communities we serve.

Time is running out to ask the questions that could stop this transaction from happening. To keep rates low, we need your help. Please help protect yourself and your neighbors by taking one (or all) of the following actions:

About the Authority

The York Area Regional Sewer Authority is comprised of five municipalities that utilize the city system and whose residents would be impacted as a result of a sale including:

  • West Manchester Township
  • Spring Garden Township
  • Manchester Township
  • York Township
  • North York Borough

The Authority’s sole purpose is to own and operate the wastewater treatment plant to maintain local control as well as keep rates for residents and businesses low. An authority provides local ownership and accountability. This provides for a heightened sensitivity to utility rates and annual increases. An authority is accountable to its customers, not its investors.

LATEST NEWS & UPDATES

ABC27: Residents surrounding York brace for sewage rate hikes: “I would imagine I’m speaking for a lot of people”

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Thank you abc27 News for the coverage on the sale of York City's wastewater treatment plant and a look at what could happen to rates for our residents. Check it out.
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Join The Local Sewer System Fight!

Did you know York is not the only town currently protesting the sale of wastewater system assets? Several Philadelphia suburbs are fighting back against sales of municipal water and wastewater systems as well as the accompanying sewer rate…

Get Involved Today!

In order to avoid a future sewer rate increase, we need your help. Please consider joining us in this effort. Here’s how you can help:

Have Your Voice Heard
Sign the Petition

Sign our Virtual Petition to maintain local control and help keep rates low.

Attend a City
Council Meeting

Be a voice of concern during open comment at an upcoming City Council meeting. Meetings are held on the first and third Tuesday evening of the month at 6pm.

Contact the
Mayor’s Office

Call or email the Mayor’s office and express concern over the potential of the sale and its financial impact. Find ways to contact Mayor Helfrich below.

Contact Local
Legislators

Call or email local legislators and express concern over the potential of the sale and its impact. A complete list of contacts are below and a sample letter can be found here.

Contact the Mayor’s Office

Three ways to contact the Mayor’s office:

  1. Complete the City of York Response Form
  2. Email the Mayor and include Subject Line: YARSA alternative to Sewer Rate Increase
  3. Call the Mayor at his office (717)849-2221
York City Council website on tablet

Contact the York City Council Members

York City Council

Henry H. Nixon

Sandie Walker

Judy A. Ritter-Dickson

Edquina Washington

Lou Rivera

York County PA County Commissioners Office on tablet

Contact your local legislators

County Commissioners

Julie Wheeler

Doug Hoke

Ron Smith

Contact your State Representatives

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Contact your State Senators

Contact your Congressman

Contact Congressman Scott Perry and let him know your concerns.

Congressman Scott Perry's website contact page on a tablet