Mayor’s methods questioned by intertwining politics in authority business

It is a given that politics should stay out of any city authority decisions. Those entities are designed to be independent and work on behalf of ratepayers. In the case of the Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary authorities, those people are the ones footing water and sewer bills.

But several on City Council are viewing the latest attempt by the mayor and some members of his administration as intermingling the two.

Campana’s latest endeavor is to lease the Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary authorities’ assets — city-owned infrastructure, treatment plants and the like — and get the authority to make payments over the life of the lease to cover city expenses, fully fund pensions and eliminate certain onerous business taxes.

But some on council said he needs a majority vote to make any lease deal happen — and they don’t like the way the mayor has been operating behind the scenes.

“He has not asked for reappointments for those whose terms have expired and (he) wants certain individuals on the authority to vote his way,” said Councilman Randall J. Allison.

“It is clear the mayor has apparently attempted to stack the authority to get the votes he needs to move this idea forward,” said City Councilwoman Liz Miele, chairwoman of council’s finance committee.

“Cities have different powers than authorities,” Miele said.

The mayor needs to remain independent, she said, and not impose his political whims and not try to influence those who sit on the board and vote.

“The question is the concept of the authority to protect the asset from politics and protect the municipality so the authority can take on more debt,”…

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