Tentative approval given for sale of Kane sewer system

Photo by Ted Lutz The Kane Borough Sewer Authority held its reorganizational meeting Tuesday at the borough building on Bayard Street. Appointed officials include, left to right, seated: Karen Walter, recording secretary; Dave Peterson, chairman; and Howard Kane, vice chairman; standing: Frank Wojcik, authority member; Ed Sleeman, secretary-treasurer; and Erik Ross, solicitor.
By: 
Ted Lutz
Staff Writer

There's a long road to travel before the Kane sewage treatment system is sold to a private company, Pennsylvania American Water.
But the lingering deal inched a step closer Tuesday. 
Acting at its first meeting of 2019, the Kane Borough Sewer Authority voted 3-0 Tuesday to tentatively "proceed" with the sale to Pennsylvania American for $17,560,000.
Authority members Dave Peterson, Howard Kane and Frank Wojcik endorsed the motion. 
A stipulation calls for the authority, the Kane Borough Council and Wetmore Township Board of Supervisors to first agree on the division of proceeds from the sale.
A joint meeting on this issue is expected to be scheduled within two weeks at the Kane Fire Hall. The meeting will be open to the public.
This joint meeting, which for now is blocking a final sales agreement, can't come fast enough for Dan Bickerton. 
Based in McMurray near Pittsburgh, Bickerton is the mid-atlantic director of business development for Pennsylvania American Water.
He said his company is anxious to get the ball rolling with the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC), which is one of key agencies that must approve the proposed sale.
"We're in the middle waiting," Bickerton said Tuesday at the authority meeting.
He said Pennsylvania American, which already provides Kane and sections of Wetmore Township with quality water, had hoped to acquire the Kane sewage system by Dec. 31, just over 11 months from now.
He indicated that it appears the deal could take until June 30, 2020 for a final sales agreement to make its tedious trek through the regulating agencies such as the PUC and state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
He implied that the company could back out of the deal if the sale isn't completed by a "drop dead" date, possibly June 30, 2020.
Steve Dyne, chairman of the Wetmore Board of Supervisors, attended the authority meeting along with Township Supervisor Elaine Bodistow.
Dyne said he sees no reason why the authority, borough and township can't quickly reach an agreement on a plan to "divvy up" the sale proceeds.
"Make it as least complicated as possible," Dyne said in reference to the proposed inter-municipal agreement for splitting the money.
If this agreement is approved at the soon-to-be set joint meeting, Bickerton is hoping the authority would call a special session to formally finalize the deal.
The authority last September hired the legal firm of Eckert Seamans of Harrisburg to provide "expert" legal advice to the authority on the proposed sale of the sewer system.
Erik Ross, a local attorney who serves as the authority solicitor, said the board should "solicit" a legal opinion from Eckert Seamans.
The township has hired Bradford attorney Sean Hvizdzak to provide "expert" legal advice to the supervisors.

For full article, check the Jan. 15, 2019 printed or e-edition of The Kane Republican

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