Friday, April 29, 2016

PMUA/Council Talk May Top Monday's Agenda

Of three City Council segments Monday, the joint session with PMUA officials is likely to be the show-stealer.

A special meeting will take place at 7 p.m. for the purpose of considering amendments to the CY 2016 Municipal Operating Budget. The budget as prepared by the administration was introduced in March, after which it became the governing body's budget. The Citizens' Budget Advisory and council members met to review it in three sessions this month, with a CBAC report presented last Wednesday. Amendments proposed Monday will be published and on Thursday the council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and possibly adopt the budget.

The agenda-fixing session at 7:30 p.m. Monday includes the joint session with PMUA officials. The authority began in 1995 and manages sewer and solid waste activities for the city, but has been controversial since its inception. Most recently, the CBAC recommended this week that the city Public Works Division should take over PMUA tasks.

In other years, a citizen activist group called Dump PMUA advocated "opting out" of the authority's trash collection by hiring private carters and a study commissioned by the council produced options including dissolution. However, the authority has finally reached its longtime goal of bringing in outside revenue by providing services to other municipalities and has not recently increased its rates to city residents.

Still, residents complain rates are too high compared to other authorities, while PMUA officials say the authority is unique for providing both solid waste and sewer services and cannot be compared to other authorities. Alan Goldstein, the most vocal objector to PMUA practices, sent the governing body nine questions for discussion at the joint meeting. However, PMUA officials had asked for council questions in advance and may not entertain a broader discussion.

The rest of the agenda-fixing agenda is relatively tame, though one ordinance up for final passage has drawn many speakers at prior meetings to urge its support. The ordinance tightens up guidelines for tethering animals  outside, enhancing prior legislation that drew crowds of animal welfare activists in 2015.



  1. Asking for the questions in advance is reminiscent of the deplorable testimony which then Director Williamson gave when he appeared before the Council about a year ago. Standing there with his Chief Financial Officer beside him he was incapable of responding when the Council enquired regarding the most cogent issues that concerned the organization. Fundemental issues about which any comnpetent manager would be well informed. The PMUA requires time to orchestrate an obfuscation, a diversion, a non-answer that gives the illusion of an answer. It is our hope that one of the requests is that the PMUA is requested to present the fiqures that justify the amount charged for Shared Service contrasted to Household Collection. And, if this closely guarded secret is revealed that the Council will authorize an independent audit for confirmation. In addition, as there is now an independent citizen's committee to review the City budget, that an independaent committee be established to review the PMUA budget. I don't think any sitting body of PMUA Commissioners, since inception, have ever looked under the sheets. Their review is perfunctory and they sign off on the material presented absent incisive examination.
    As to the touted "additional business" from neighboring communities it is a benefit, but an examination will show that the bottom line is marginal. It will be inetersting to observe whether the Council makes areal effort to peel back the sheets, or this is yet another dog and pony show for public consumption. Bill Kruse

  2. Isn’t Eric Watson the director of the public works division.