DUBOIS – The possible consolidation of Sandy Township and DuBois City was again a topic of much discussion at Monday’s Sandy Township Supervisors’ meeting.
Resident Pamela August attended the meeting and approached the supervisors with questions concerning the consolidation process and what might occur in the future.
August said following the last meeting, she’d gotten upset and was quite concerned over the possible debt scenario, if the municipalities consolidated.
She restated the debt figures provided, indicating Sandy Township has approximately $6 million in debt. DuBois City has approximately $18 million.
She suggested that the city might impose charges on township residents for city amenities that Sandy Township doesn’t have.
For example, August recalled that the DuBois Public Library once charged non-city residents for library cards. She wondered if this might occur with the ball fields, pool, etc.
The supervisors disagreed, saying some amenities were financed by the county or larger entities, or were the result of a DuBois-Sandy joint effort.
August was also advised that the supervisors didn’t believe the city could charge township residents extra for any amenities financed with grant funds.
Additionally, August asked about the maintenance charge on her water/sewer bill, if water was being purchased from DuBois City.
She said that the township charged $45 on her most-recent bill, and that it was in addition to the city’s charge for water and sewage.
Township Manager Shawn Arbaugh explained that in Sandy Township, water and sewage travels through infrastructure that the township owns and maintains.
“They charge us an amount, but we still have to do a lot of the same work,” added Supervisor Kevin Salandra. Some costs, he said, could be reduced with consolidation.
August asked what the township could do in terms of planning in advance for consolidation, if it would pass in November.
The supervisors indicated that there wasn’t anything the township could do at this point because it’s moving forward as a petition with no involvement on the township’s part.
The petition lays out that the consolidated municipality would be a third-class city, if it passes the voter referendum in November.
Then, the consolidated municipality would be permitted to move forward with establishment of its new government structure within a year.
Supervisor Bill Beers explained that if the petition had been delayed and written to consolidate with a home rule charter, it would’ve changed the process.
After the initial vote, he said there would have been a phase to draft the home rule municipality, which also would have to be voted upon and approved.
“We didn’t know this until after the citizens’ [petition],” said Salandra. The supervisors reminded that the Pennsylvania Economy League study favored home rule.
It was noted there’s no study available to indicate whether or not a third-class city will be good or bad for township residents.
Supervisor Sam Mollica asked if it’s possible for PEL to do a study now, but his fellow supervisors didn’t believe the township should have to pay for such a study to be done.
Beers said the consolidated city could transition to a home rule charter, but it would take several years and cost more than consolidating as a home rule charter in the first place.