To the editor: On Jan. 7 I was sworn in as a board member of the Kulpmont Marion Heights Joint Municipal Authority.

With that, I started work on the authority. I think the citizens of Marion Heights and Kulpmont should know that the authority board has had serious discussions about raising rates. One board member at a Nov. 27 meeting stated he didn’t see how the authority “can get away with not raising rates, if not this year, definitely next year.”

The authority members’ attempt to correct what they perceived to be a financial problem was to essentially cut the pay of the authority employees by charging them a portion of their health insurance. I don’t think an employee who has served for a long time should be faced with what is essentially a cut in pay. Why is it that when financial problems present themselves the first reaction of board members is to cut employee benefits or to raise rates or taxes?

At the Dec. 19 meeting, Steve Motyka, a former board member, was asked why health insurance went up. Motyka’s response was, “Because the board hired a new employee.” An additional employee. A board member in the minutes stated “he thinks we should have looked at this (charging for health insurance) before we hired an extra guy, whether we could afford it or not.”

I submitted a long list of items that I would appreciate being given to me so that I can analyze the finances and operations of the authority. I can put forth, without much of an opportunity to do any analysis, the following yearly cost saving measures:

• Eliminate the surf-n-turf parties: $2,300.

• Move the checking account and do away with the analysis fees: $1,200.

• Reduce one person on the staff: $42,000.

• Cut out Stan Niglio’s daily trips to the post office and the bank to make deposits: $1,000 in gas, wasted time and wear and tear on a very expensive authority truck.

• Cut the solicitor’s fees: $2,000.

Total projected savings are $48,500. After being given the opportunity to really look into things, I would hope I could find more savings.

Citizens should look at the authority’s proposed budget. It’s not useful. What is really needed is budget projections for at least three, if not five, years. When that was brought up, Bruno Varano’s response was “he didn’t know what was going to happen in three years and cannot take that into consideration.” I guess every entity in the world should stop doing budget projections and planning ahead, because who knows what will happen in three years.

To help with all the work at the authority, I will volunteer to go to the Kulpmont Post Office when mail is available and deliver it to the authority for the next 60 days. I will take the bank deposits to the bank as required. I can offer references to my qualifications for these extremely difficult and time-consuming tasks. Several hours a week of a sewer authority employee’s time should be freed up.

Walt Lutz

Board member

Kulpmont Marion Heights Joint Municipal Authority

(Updated from an earlier version to correct first name for Niglio.)

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