O-Burg Council Screws its Residents on Water Deal

Just when I thought that I and other Orwigsburg residents were going to get a break on our monthly bills, Orwigsburg Council decided to wave their collective finger like Dikembe Mutumbo and reject the proposed sale of the borough water/sewage system to Schuylkill County Municipal Authority. In a 4-3 vote on Wednesday night, Susan L. Murphy, Steven J. Zimmerman, John M. Rehrig and council President Charles J. Sterner prevailed in their attempt to keep costs high for borough residents so that they don’t have to trim the budget.

“We, as a council, have not yet come up with a financial plan to make up the $200,000 shortfall we’ll have in our general budget if we lose the water and sewer budget,” Zimmerman said before the vote. “I don’t think we should consider the proposal until we have a plan in place.”

Well, that’s great, Steve. You don’t feel like tightening the borough’s belt, so the rest of us are stuck tightening ours. Yep, local government at its finest! If the proposal had gone through, it would have saved borough residents approximately $250.00 per year right away and negated the need for Blue Mountain School District to raise taxes to keep up with increased costs. The three dissenting council members, Daniel K. Strausser, David Lafko and Michele Rudloff, found that the benefits of lower costs on its citizens outweighed the annoyance of having to actually DO THEIR JOBS by finding things to cut in the borough budget to make up for the shortfall. At least this town still has three leaders who care about the financial welfare of its constituency.

There is still hope, though. The voters of Orwigsburg will have a chance to overrule their council’s decision via referendum in November. In order to earn a place on the ballot, 10% of Orwigsburg’s residents must sign a petition in favor of the deal. So says borough solicitor Frank Tamulonis.

So, let me take this opportunity inform you all that I will be drafting such a petition and circulating it over the next few weeks. If you live in the borough and are willing to sign or to help circulate it, please leave a comment for me under this article. Remember to list your e-mail address, so that I can get a hold of you directly.

We can still make this happen!




Filed under Local News

4 responses to “O-Burg Council Screws its Residents on Water Deal

  1. Jason

    I do not live in the borough, however I would be glad to help gather signatures for the petition. Also, I’m not a lawyer but it seems to me that the borough shouldn’t be able to take money paid for water and sewer and use it for other things. One last thing; When it comes time to campaign against the 4 that voted against the will of the people, let me know.

  2. Jim B

    I disagree with your premise that Orwigsburg Council screwed its residents. They made the hard decision. There are many facets to this whole issue. The timing of this arrangement would seem to fit into many developers plans. Over-development around Orwigsburg is not a very pleasant future for us. Zoning rulings are easily overturned by the County Court as was the case of MGM Four – Greenview Village. If it seems to good to be true it usually is. Good advice.

  3. Jason

    Jim B,

    You control development with zoning, The MGM4 ruling came because the land was zoned R2 which is high density, and the township gave no reason other then ‘we don’t want neighbors’ to deny them. Developments are stopped all the time when they try a put houses on land zoned Ag or R-1 low density housing.. As I said I don’t live in O-burg but I have lots of friends who do and everyone of them would rather have 80 homes at the old deer lake drive-in if it saved them 30% on their water bill. Think of it, what your saying is every resident of O-Burg is spending an extra $250 a year not for water quality but to control development. Lets put it on a ballot an let the people decide.

  4. I just typed in “getting screwed on a county water deal” and I found this thread. Not even sure where your city/town is but your problems are very similar “…to develop or not to develop,” and lazy counsel/commission members who don’t do their homework.

    Our city, Lake Worth Florida, is located about 8 miles south of West Palm Beach… right on the coast. Since we are far ahead of you in terms of development… with just about all our green space gone; and high ticket infrastructure improvements necessary to support continuing development… I can tell you, if you don’t get a good handle on development and do it with a consensus from the people in terms of some vision, you will eventually lose your green space too and experience the by-products of urbanization/over development/ too much density.

    But on to our water deal. Without boring you too much here’s how we got screwed. We ended up committing to spend 24 million dollars for something we could get for NOTHING. That’s right. Our own city staff stuck it to us and eliminated every low cost option including the obvious water interconnect we have with West Palm water where we could get the same quality 3 mgd (million gallons per day) from West Palm at a capital cost of ZERO versus spending 24 million for pipe and tanks (county making us pump off peak).

    Corruption has no limits.


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