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CLYMER: Municipal authority, council discuss possibility of merger

by on October 31, 2013 10:50 AM

CLYMER — Members of Clymer Borough council and the Clymer Municipal Authority discussed the possibility of a merger at a special meeting Wednesday and agreed to move forward with researching the details.

The borough and municipal authority operate as separate entities, said Rob Barto, borough manager. Borough council appoints members of the authority board.

The authority also contributes $10,000 toward Barto’s salary as borough manager.

But if they were to merge, Barto and council members believe it would be positive to both entities and to the citizens of Clymer.

Benefits could include a central location for residents to pay bills and conduct borough business, the reduction of an office and the doubling up of equipment such as trucks and mowers, Barto said.

The borough would also be able to provide access to less expensive insurance, worker’s compensation and pension plans.

With these considerations in mind, council drafted an agreement that was given to the authority two months ago.

The agreement was initially met with resistance by members of authority. In a contentious discussion Wednesday, authority board Chairman George Tate pressed Barto and council for more specifics and questioned the intention of a merger.

The authority, which is responsible for a water plant, sewage plant, administrative work, hookups and other related duties, operates with two employees and a secretary.

Tate questioned the fate of the employees if a merger is approved, but Barto and council stressed that nobody would be losing their jobs.

Tate also questioned how much money would be saved by a merger, but Barto said an amount has not yet been determined. In order to provide numbers, Barto said he needs access to authority records, which was agreed upon as the groups decided to move forward with research after about an hour of debate.

Barto will begin looking through authority records in the coming weeks to begin the process.

Another aspect that raised a red flag for Tate, he said, is how a merger would affect finances, but those must be kept separate by law, Barto said.

For Barto and council, the merger just makes sense.

“We are all serving the same people,” he said.

It would provide stability to the borough and the municipal authority in coming years as current officials filter out and new ones come in, Barto said. It would also provide the citizens of Clymer with a united view of the borough and authority and eliminate any “us and them” mentality between the entities as they work together.

If enacted, the merger would take place in 2015.

Margaret Weaver has served as a Gazette staff writer since 2006. She covers Clymer Borough, the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District and Blairsville court, and also works in the areas of layout, design and editing. She can be reached at
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