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