Mayor Linda Thompson outlined a new arrangement with the Harrisburg Authority Thursday in which the entity will take over running water and sewer services.
Rates are not expected to increase as a result of the transition, said Shannon Williams, the authority’s executive director.
But, both Williams and Thompson pointed out that could happen as the authority looks for ways to cover the costs of upgrades to the waste water treatment facility and the city’s aging pipes.
“Whether it’s going to be two years from now or three years from now, that’s going to be a decision of the administration who are operating the authority,” said Thompson.
While the deal is expected to close by October 1, the authority won’t immediately take over all functions of billing and maintaining the system.
“We understand this is a very huge transaction and transition…we recognize there are going to be some bumps,” said Thompson.
The new arrangement is one facet of Receiver Maj. Gen. William Lynch’s “Harrisburg Strong” plan, which is designed to get the city out of debt.
“This is a big deal,” said Lynch.
Lynch said the arrangement will help give the authority access to $26 million in loans from the state to help make upgrades to meet environmental standards.
The authority is about three-quarters of the way through its project to map the city’s pipes. Then, the authority’s leaders will determine which need upgrades first. Some of the city’s pipes are over 100 years old.
Employees currently working for the city will transition to the Harrisburg Authority.
The receiver’s plan also outlines a settlement with surrounding communities who claimed the city over-billed them by about $25 million for sewer services. The plan calls for the communities to receive about $11.2 million over the course of six years.
Lynch filed his plan in Commonwealth Court earlier this week. A judge has scheduled a hearing on the plan for Sept. 19.