Norristown’s Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday, June 16th to sell its sewer system for $82 million to Aqua. After covering debts associated with the Norristown Municipal Waste Authority and closing costs and other expenses, the municipality is expected to pocket approximately $58 million.
The vote to sell was not unanimous. Council members Rebecca Smith and Hakim Jones voted no. Valerie Scott Cooper, Heather Lewis, Derrick Perry, Sonya D. Sanders, and Thomas Lepera all voted yes. The entire board consists of Democrats.
So what is the $58 million going to be spent on? In this presentation (starting on page 14), Norristown’s Council outlines potential uses of the money.
Many towns in Pennsylvania have made a similar move. The controversy comes with the potential for significant rate increases after a few years. The Philadelphia Inquirer had an extensive article on the issue in 2018.
Over the past couple of years, Plymouth Township explored the sale of its sewer system to fund renovations of its township building. It’s council eventually decided against it. West Conshohocken sold its system to the Conshohocken Sewer Authority in 2017.
Conshohocken’s Borough Council has taken some initial steps to explore the sale of its system, but no additional steps have been taken.
One thing we want to point out. Kudos to Norristown’s Council for having the action it took posted on social media and even having someone answer questions. That is the first time we have seen that occur locally. Every municipality should do it.