Lansford seeks applications for Water Auth. board
Lansford Borough Council is seeking applications from people interested in be named to the Lansford-Coaldale Joint Water Authority Board and other panels. Notices will appear in the TIMES NEWS seeking applicants.
The open position on the water authority is currently held by treasurer Richard Pogwist. The new term ends in Dec. 2015.
The water authority position has generated keen interest among residents of both towns due to the ongoing controversy surrounding the salaries and benefits given water authority officers.
Councilman Tommy Vadyak has for years railed against the remuneration, taking his efforts to state agencies.
Resident Dan Gildea spoke with council members at a public meeting Wednesday, voicing his concerns. Gildea said the lowest-paying position on the authority, that of assistant secretary-treasurer, pays $600 a month. He questioned what the water authority officers do to deserve their salaries and benefits.
The five water authority officers are appointed by the borough councils, two from Coaldale and three from Lansford.
Vadyak has said water authority officers' compensation has been set by the boroughs' ordinances at $25 a month. According to 2009 water authority records, the water authority board chairman earns $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; the vice chairman, treasurer, secretary and assistant secretary-treasurer each receive an annual $2,150 stipend.
Water authority officer Toby Krajcirik has said the officers' salaries were increased in 2006 after they began assuming more responsibilities in the wake of the arrest of longtime employee Annamae Surotchak, who admitted in federal court to embezzling about $80,000 over five years. Krajcirik has said Surotchak's $38,000 a year job was eliminated and the wages used to offset some of the officers' pay increases.
Other vacancies for which council is seeking applicants include two two-year terms on the Zoning Hearing Board and two four-year terms on the Parks and Recreation Commission.
In a related matter Wednesday, council agreed to meet with Coaldale council to discuss Lansford Borough Council on Wednesday considered an offer from a Philadelphia-area company to buy the water authority.
Aqua Pennsylvania, based in Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, a subsidiary of Aqua America Inc., representative Keith E. Gabage contacted both boroughs about the proposal.
"In the event that council and/or the authority's board may be contemplating the possible sale (or even currently entertaining another party interested in exploring the purchase with council and/or the authority's board) of the water system serving the Lansford-Coaldale area, we at Aqua would welcome the opportunity to work with you to highlight how such a sale will benefit the community, employees and customers of the system in the short and long term," Gabage wrote.
Aqua Pennsylvania owns community water systems in 30 counties in Pennsylvania, including Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Delaware, Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, Berks, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Snyder, Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike, Wayne, Bradford, Mercer, Lawrence, Crawford and Forest counties.
A date for the meeting had yet to be scheduled as of late Wednesday.