Bristol Approves Sale of Sewer System for $50 Million
Updated Tuesday 12:55 pm
On Monday night, Bristol Borough approved the sale of its sewer system to the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority for $50 million.
Officials from BCWSA did a 25 minute presentation prior to council and sewer authority approving the sale.
Council President Ralph DiGuiseppe said the borough had offers in the past to sell the system but this was the first time a serious offer was considered.
We’ve had offers in the past but didn’t consider selling it until recently when BCWSA approached us , he said.
“This wasn’t something where we just turned on a switch and said lets sell the sewer plant,” said DiGuiseppe
Bristol Borough while considering the sale sought input from its financial advisors to find out potential income the could generate.
The main borough concern, DiGuiseppe said was to protect residents and taxpayers and I think we’re doing that he said.
DiGuiseppe pointed to sales in other localities where issues popped up at their treatment plant creating potential revenue loss with those sales. Case in point is what occurred in Doylestown Borough. The small in population size borough sold their system after upgrades to it were performed stemming from litigation in the 1990’s
The impact, officials said, caused rates to increase 80 percent.
Borough officials said the treatment Bristol’s treatment plant is in very good condition currently, recently passing state inspection.
If something goes wrong with the plant, 4200 residents will bear the costs. With the system under control of BCWSA those costs would be spread among its 100,000 plus customers, officials said.
Municipalities have been getting out of the sewer and water business, recently selling their systems off to address problems at home. while companies like BCWSA who have expertise in managing sanitary systems are purchasing them, as the Philadelphia Inquirer has reported.
The approved agreement will affect 4200 tax paying residents of the borough. Three years of “rate stability” are included in the deal, according to BCWSA officials.
Chief Executive Officer of BCWSA Benjamin Jones and company did a slide presentation explaining the companies history, and recent system purchases in other southeastern regional municipalities
Jones addressed what residents who pay for the sewer services wanted to know more than anything, will bills increase?
“What you’re paying today assuming you use the same amount of water is the same rate you’re going to pay for the next three year,” Jones said
Jones said in his experience cost factors for municipalities and its residents is a main reason systems are being sold.
There are times, he said, where localities have paid for their systems, are now fully out of debt and paid them off, and instead of passing new costs on to customers, with upgrades and spending “a lot more money,” it becomes expensive, he said.
After the three year rate period, borough customers would merge into BCWSA’s rate structure
Currently rates for borough sewer customers are $81 per quarter for 10,000 gallons and there $7.06 after that. BCWSA rates are $23.68 monthly, with an added charge of $5.88 for an additional allotment said a company official.
Officials said depending on several factors, such as usage, expected project completion rates could remain stable, increase and or drop by the time the three price freeze concludes.
“We’re really pleased to be here,” Jones said, Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority is an entity of Bucks County. This is exactly what we were designed to do back in 1962 when it was created and it’s what we’re still doing today.
Next steps include BCWSA board approval of sale the agreement. Bond issue to purchase the Bristol Borough sewer system, which will take approximately four months from BCWSA board approval of sale. Then settlement and operational transition within one month following bond closure, said Spokesperson Patrick Cleary Tuesday on follow up.
“We feel this is the right thing to do” for the future of Bristol Borough, DiGuiseppe said.