Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, March 25, 2019

CWSA board hears positive results of annual audit

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

The April Coplay-Whitehall Sewer Authority board meeting is an annual review of the authority’s operations. This year’s review was held April 20. The players are often the same, and the results are in line with past years’ excellent reports.

John Barry, from Brown and Brown Insurance, discussed the authorities claims history.

“There were not many claims this year. We still maintain general coverage with Selective Insurance,” he said.

Barry emphasized that Selective carries a top rating.

“If anything drops below a B+ rating, we examine it fully,” he said. “Sometimes an insurance company can get into trouble quickly. We have a group that watches these ratings for changes.”

CWSA had a rash of workers’ compensation claims over the past few years and is working off the bad experience. Rates are set based on claim history over three years, so the new rates are trending down. Barry emphasized the insurance market is undergoing a flurry of mergers and acquisitions designed to make businesses stronger and more efficient.

One of the latest claim trends Barry emphasized is the increase in cyber claims.

“It was virtually unknown years ago, but we see more cases cited in claims,” he said.

A recent experience was an employee who sent detailed employee information based on a hacked email.

“It’s important that people know where the email is coming from, and they have the training and knowledge necessary to defeat these hacks,” he said.

William Billowitch, with Buckno, Lisicky & Company, P.C., presented the financial picture. The authority has assets valued at $30 million. Long-term debt reduces the authority’s net worth to $20 million.

Billowitch explained there are variations in the timing of revenues, but the authority is on sound financial footing. The pension plan is well funded.

CWSA Attorney John Stover gave his assessment of the legal landscape.

“We have 51 liens open for payments. We settled 30 liens in 2016. We are getting these payments addressed,” he said.

Stover briefly described plans to settle a long-standing Environmental Protection Agency requirement that involves Lehigh County Authority and the municipalities using the Allentown Waste Water Treatment Plant.

“CWSA spent $14 million to reduce [inflow and infiltration] in the wastewater system. The system is running well,” he said.

Reducing the rain water inflows into the sewer system reduces the amount of water that needs to be treated. Although CWSA made great strides in complying with the EPA directive, there is a regional plan that extends to 2050 to make sure the sewer system meets all the necessary standards. All municipalities are reviewing the particulars of the plan to make sure it meets the ongoing needs of each municipality.

Darryl Jenkins, of SSM Group, provided a detailed list of the projects CWSA completed in the past year. Highlights included replacing sections of the Lehigh River Interceptor and a new metering station. Jenkins explained that metering stations are critical to managing water surges during significant rain events.

“We had data blocked in the past during high volume,” he said. “With our new system, we are able to accurately track surges during major rain events.”