Mar 21, 2013
Water Workings 2013
According to a Morning Call report by Samantha Marcus, Allentown will permit the Lehigh County Authority, aka LCA, to bid on the water lease, even though the County Commissioners declined to extend their charter from 36 to 50 years. The explanation used by the Commissioners was that their rejection would spare county residents from indirectly paying for Allentown's pension problems. There also was the allegation that LCA, although a public authority, was unaccountable and aloof to public dialogue. Ironically, any bid now submitted by LCA would be amortized over a shorter term, actually increasing the debt service. This blogger had inquired behind the scenes, concerning the Commissioners rationale in rejecting the LCA charter extension. The commissioners felt that the LCA was prepared to overbid, much more than a private company would offer. With LCA out of the way, perhaps the private company bids would not even rise to a level acceptable by Allentown City Council. It's apparent that the rules of this game are very flexible. Pawlowski is hellbent on leasing the system, and would likely accept the highest offer, regardless of previously stated bottom lines. Also, over a third of county residents are Allentonians, and the remainder currently get their water from Allentown, through the LCA. I believe that creating a new Allentown Water Authority, then issuing revenue anticipation bonds, would have been the best option to meet pension obligations. However, that option was never on the table. Unless City Council exerts itself with alternatives, under the game imposed by Pawlowski, the LCA is our best choice.