(Story by Beaver County Radio News Correspondent Curtis Walsh)
(Beaver Falls, PA) “This is the biggest thing to happen in Beaver Falls since the mills shut down”. Those were the words of Mayor Quay after City Council approved a 41.25 million dollar asset purchase agreement with Aqua Pennsylvania at Tuesday nights council meeting. Discussions of selling the Beaver Falls Sanitary Sewer system began in early 2020 when the city took part in the Commonwealth Strategic Management Planning Program to assess current and future financial sustainability. The city was faced with the inevitable fact that sooner or later they would have to sell the sewer system, and they determined that it would be better to sell it now, before they are forced to. “We own a valuable asset that we cant make money on” Kevin Kunselman said. It is expected that over half of the sale proceeds will go into an interest-bearing trust that will generate annual revenue and a portion will be used as a rainy day fund. The city is estimating that they will bring in $1,120,000 in annual positive cash flow as a result of the deal. Aqua will also contribute $1,250,000 to various charitable activities within the city for things like a new firetruck and improvements to the Carnegie Library. Beaver Falls will begin a new plan called Beaver Falls Revive as well, which will fund blight removal and improve recreation, playgrounds, and the downtown streetscape. The city is also slated to decrease property taxes by 5 mills. The current monthly sewage rate of of 38.34 is expected to remain the same through 2025. Their best case scenario estimates it will be at $58.18 in 2025, and the worst case scenario puts it at $83.12. It was also noted that the Beaver Falls Water System itself is not being sold. All 7 Sewer System employees will be retained, as part of the contract. Other actions that took place at the meeting were the hiring of new accountant Sandra Wilkins, a Department of Public Works budget transfer of $7,090.93, and the paying of general fund expenditures at a total of $131,094.76.
Aqua Pennsylvania currently operates in 33 counties, serving 1.4 million.