Bids or No Bids for Sewer Project?

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Members of the Abington Regional Wastewater Authority in northern Lackawanna County are facing fire after delaying efforts to open the engineering design to rebuild the sewer system to competitive bidding.

The sewage plant serves Clarks Summit, Clarks Green and South Abington Township.

The Abington Regional Wastewater Authority must upgrade its system by July 2014.

The purpose is to reduce pollutants into waterways that ultimately flow into Chesapeake Bay. The cost $32 million.

The next move is an engineering design.

Authority board members want to give the job to Harrisburg-based Gannett Fleming, the company that just finished the project's overview.

South Abington Township's top supervisor said bad move.

"We do everything we can to do things we can cost effectively in town and it looks like they don't worry about the cost too much," said Supervisor Giles Stanton. He added the wastewater authority should put the sewer redesign up for competitive bidding.

The authority doesn't have to, but Stanton said look what happened in Scranton. When its sewer authority mandated competitive bidding for the engineering design Scranton saved $900,000.

"There's big bucks to be saved here," Stanton added.

Board members admit it's hard to argue against competitive bidding when it looks on the surface that it would save rate payers almost a million dollars.

"It's painting a negative view in that we're not considering alternate points of view," said authority board member Cesar Lopez. He added competitive bidding would slow down a project already behind schedule.

Lopez said that failure to meet the July, 2014 deadline could stop construction of new homes and business in the three communities.

"There's going to be a moratorium on development and your ability to grant additional taps to your communities," said Lopez.

Clarks Green and South Abington municipal councils have gone on record demanding competitive bidding for the engineering design, claiming it would save money. Clarks Summit officals believe the project should go to Gannett Flemming.

The authority is expected to vote on it Wednesday night.