Coaldale councilman Joseph Hnat wants a seat on the beleaguered Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority.

Hnat was one of three people who have sent letters of interest to the borough in being appointed to the position. The others are borough residents Ted Bortnick, the town's former mayor, and water authority officer Robert Demyanovich, whose term ends Dec. 31.

Hnat, Bortnick and Demyanovich are the first people to apply. Council expects to make a decision next month, so applicants are still welcome.

Lansford elects three officers to the authority board; Coaldale appoints two.

The water authority has drawn fire for the salary and benefits packages given to officers. According to public records, the board chairman makes $15,000 a year; the vice chairman/superintendent $47,000; the treasurer $8,000; the secretary $8,000 and the assistant secretary/treasurer $6,800. In addition, the chairman receives a $2,250 annual stipend; and the vice chairman, treasurer, secretary and assistant secretary-treasurer each receive an annual $2,150 stipend.

All employees, including the officers, who define themselves as full-time employees, are eligible for medical benefits. The officers have defended the earnings, saying they are on call 24/7, and that their decision some years ago to eliminate an office position freed the money.

The appointment of a new officer comes at a critical point: Lansford council on Oct. 26 by a split vote agreed to meet with representatives of Aqua Pennsylvania of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, a subsidiary of Aqua America Inc.; and Pennsylvania American Water, Mechanicsburg, to discuss the possible sale of the water authority. Council members Tommy Vadyak, Andrew Snyder, Danielle Smith and president Adam Webber voted to meet with the companies, while Rose Mary Cannon, Mary Kruczek and Lenny Kovach were opposed.

The meetings would be open to the public.

Some residents are concerned the companies would siphon off the boroughs' water supplies. Others see a possible sale as a financial windfall for the financially stressed boroughs.