By Mary Spicer
The downsizing of Meadville Area Water Authority is scheduled to be on the agenda when Meadville City Council meets for its monthly study session Wednesday at 4 p.m. in City Hall on Diamond Park.
The change will reduce the authority from seven members to five by eliminating two unfilled seats. Of the five members now seated, four have formal ties to the city. MAWA now includes Chairman Tim Groves, the current city finance director; Treasurer Hal Tubbs, retired Meadville police chief; Teresa Henry, retired assistant city finance director; and Secretary John Fulmer, life partner of councilman LeRoy Stearns. Vice Chairman Joseph Stainbrook is the fifth member.
Members of MAWA serve five-year terms. Groves was appointed in 2009, Stainbrook in 2010 and Tubbs in 2011. Fulmer, who was appointed in 2011 to an uncompleted term expiring this year, was re-appointed to a full five-year term in February. Henry was appointed during council’s March 6 study session to replace Marcia Findlay, who had served for 10 years before her term expired Feb. 21. The two vacant seats had been held by Rob Roth, who resigned late last year, and Richard Shaffer, who said he did not want to be re-appointed when his term expired in February 2012.
When MAWA was created by the city in January 1991, council appointed seven members, the maximum allowed under Pennsylvania’s Municipal Authorities Act. The act, which requires each municipal authority to have a minimum of five members, gives an authority the power decrease its number of members by amending its articles of incorporation, subject to council’s approval.
If council approves the requested amendment, the change must be advertised at least three days before the articles of amendment are presented to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
The first step in the process came March 25, when the holders of the five seats currently filled on the seven-member authority voted unanimously to reduce their number to five.
“Back in 1991, when council created MAWA, it was a working authority,” Groves told the Tribune after the meeting. “A lot of people with various backgrounds were on it. Now, you have a professional manager, a professional attorney and a professional engineer. The members don’t really manage the authority.”
With professional management in place to operate the system, “we really don’t need seven members,” Groves explained. “We talked among ourselves and decided we really don’t need seven.”
MAWA serves a population of approximately 16,000, which includes parts of West Mead and Vernon townships and also provides bulk water to the Vernon Township Water Authority.
The authority has been managed by American Water Enterprises Inc., formerly known as American Water Services, since 1997. Since 2000, Don Nold has served as American Water’s MAWA project manager. Business Manager Yvonne Shaffer is also an American Water employee.
“I give American Water credit for pushing the board to do capital improvements that are necessary,” Groves said. “I give them, especially the local people working here, a lot of credit. They’re doing a great job — we want to continue to keep that system going.”
In 2008, MAWA signed a 10-year management contract with American Water expiring in 2017.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.