Task force’s water study, no-tax-hike budget OK’d

MANSFIELD – The Old Route 15 corridor is one step closer to seeing the creation of a regional water authority, possibly to be called the Upper Tioga River Municipal Authority, following action at the Richmond Township supervisors meeting Tuesday.

Supervisors also adopted a no-tax-hike budget for 2014.

Following an overview by Betterment Organization of Mansfield representative Bob Wood and attorney Chris Lantz, the supervisors unanimously voted to approve a water supply planning study on the condition it is approved by township Solicitor Jeff Loomis.

Last summer the task force commissioned RETTEW Associates to prepare the report, which it did and placed on the township’s website as well as the BOOM website.

The report calls for a 10-member authority with each municipality having two members from each participating municipality: Richmond, Covington, Putnam, Blossburg and Mansfield boroughs. BOOM and Mansfield University would be non-voting members.

The new authority would continue to look for more water and ways to transport it by seeking funding through grants as a multi-municipal organization, which carries more weight than single municipalities, Lantz said.

“The response has been very positive,” Wood said, adding that the project is supported by the county commissioners and the county planner.

Lantz presented a prepared resolution to adopt the study that was non-binding and does not obligate the township to continue on with the project if it decides not to at any point in the future, nor does it require any monetary investment.

“Individual municipalities do not lose their individual ability to govern themselves. You could agree to move forward and then at the end decide not to move forward. This just enables us to move forward and allows us to hold a public hearing,” Lantz said.

The task force was formed after the Susquehanna River Basin Commission cut off any new tap-ins from Mansfield Borough’s municipal water system, which gets it water from the Lamb’s Creek Watershed, in the summer of 2012.

Since then, three new businesses have been constructed in the Route 15 corridor south of the borough that could not get municipal water and had to provide their own water supply from dug wells, Wood said.

“But if they had their druthers, they’d rather be on municipal water,” he added.

In other business, supervisors:

* Approved two Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement applications, one for Cole and Burd Dodge for an addition to its building and the other to Cameron International.

* Accepted a bid from Smart Systems, of Bath, N.Y., for an AIrflow dump truck body for $36,925. The other bid of $34,434 from Bradco, of Towanda, was lower, but supervisors did not want to wait until April for the company to put the body on the township’s truck.

* Accepted a single bid from Walters Chevrolet in Elkland for a new pickup truck.

Next month’s meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 6.