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Privatization of sewer system has advantages and disadvantages


I read the Herald article (July 21) about Solebury – “Supervisors state concern with sale of sewer system.”

I spent some time reading about the privatization of essential public services. There are positive and negative opinions. In balance, the negatives are matters we all need to consider. The number one negative is that service costs very often increase.

I cannot help but think recovering the $1.1 billion purchase price would likely result, at the outset or in short order, in significantly increased costs to the customer base. I also read about private companies being slow to make necessary repairs and needed capital improvements. I would be concerned about responsiveness to client complaints.

I’d rather have access to local management, even access to the county commissioners, than to find the way through corporate bureaucracy. I suspect local elected officials, motivated by public interests and support, would be more open to the needs of their constituents than a private firm rightly motivated by profitability. And there is no ability to choose an alternative service provider if customers are troubled with increasing fees or declining service.

We can always find a different trash hauler, but a private sewer company is essentially a monopoly. I even read about a resale of a privatized service to international investors. If the county commissioners are to consider the sale of the sewer system, might the board open discussions with other for-profit companies?

These are important issues. There needs to be a compelling reason for the sale. I encourage everyone concerned forward your thoughts to the Bucks County Board of Commissioners.

Michael Frank, Doylestown