Pa. limits towns from tapping municipal authorities

    The line dividing Pennsylvania municipalities from the service authorities they created just got a bit clearer.

    A state law is aimed at keeping cities from the coffers of their sewer authorities.

    If Pennsylvania cities and townships are feeling the hurt from the economic doldrums, entities such as water authorities and garbage authorities are their wealthy cousins — relatively flush with cash from user fees.

    Some municipalities have been leaning more and more on these rich relatives, using formal agreements and historically close relationships to get straight money transfers to help pay the bills.

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    John Brosious of the Pennsylvania Municipality Authority Association says a law passed in June drives home the point such practices must end, because they eat away at authorities’ finances.

    “With more and more municipalities trying to figure out how to deal with their financial situation, they wanted to be sure that this was you know not a monetary house of cards that would kind of collapse on everybody that was involved,” Brosious said.

    The law requires authorities to spend their revenue only on things related to their mission — such as service delivery and infrastructure upgrades.

    It also limits how much authorities can give — in cash or in kind — to community groups and events.

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