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Keystone Crossroads: Rust or Revival? explores the urgent challenges pressing upon Pennsylvania's cities. Four public media newsrooms are collaborating to report in depth on the root causes of our state's urban crisis -- and on possible solutions. Keystone Crossroads offers reports on radio, web, social media, television and newspapers, and through public events.Our partner stations are WHYY in Philadelphia, WPSU in State College and witf in Harrisburg. Read all of the partner stories here.Pittsburgh’s WQED joins the collaboration as an associate partner. Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

What Your City Can Learn From The Cost Of Water In Coatesville

Lindsay Lazarski
Keystone Crossroads

Rising administration costs and dwindling coffers mean cities across Pennsylvania are looking for quick cash.

Selling off a big asset, say an energy or water utility, can seem like just the save they need. In 2013, Allentown leased its water authority for 50 years to stave off a pension crisis. The following year, Middletown Borough in Dauphin County signed it own five-decade deal for $43 million, an arrangement the mayor called "the lesser of two evils."

With such long-range deals, it can be hard to gauge how much cities will benefit in the end — and how selling a public asset impacts customers.

Enter Coatesville. This small city in Chester County sold its water and sewer utilities to the Pennsylvania American Water Company (PAWC) in 2001 for a cool $48 million. What's happened in the decade and a half since then may provide some perspective to cities considering selling their own utilities.

Read the entire story at the website of our partner Keystone Crossroads.