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Dear Hideout Members,

On behalf of the Roamingwood Board of Directors I am writing to you not only as the President but also as a past President and Board member of The Hideout Property Owners Association and a POA member for approximately 43 years. Combined with the four other members of the RS&W Board of Directors, we have well over 100 years of experience with The Hideout Community.

As a Community, we have all been affected by the implementation of the new sewer and water system over the last few years. At last, we are approaching the later stages of this endeavor and although we have experienced a few “bumps in the road” and some very important “lessons learned”, the project is still ahead of schedule and under budget. As you read this letter, with the cooperation of the POA , the roadway restoration paving of the roads, should be well underway for Stage II & property restoration shortly thereafter. Fortunately, Northeast Pa. experienced a very mild winter that enabled work to proceed basically uninterrupted. As the unexpected progress of the project was welcome, the inability to get quality cold patch for temporary patching or the much needed “Hot Mix” was not. However, as road material is produced, this situation will be alleviated in time for everyone to enjoy the summer season. Your patience, though we know it was trying during these winter months, was much appreciated.

In light of the financial stress the increased rates have brought about, we have been made aware that, some Hideout Members have been discussing and investigating selling ownership of RS&W to a private “for profit” company. Based on our research into the privatization of surrounding communities and the subsequent increase in cost to homeowners along with the loss of control and services , The RS&W Board of Directors and the South Wayne Board of Directors as well as the Property Owners Association and Board of Directors are unanimously against this approach and believe Roamingwood Sewer & Water Assoc., a Nonprofit Corporation, along with the oversight of the South Wayne Board, should retain ownership and control of this asset to protect the interest of The Hideout homeowners who have elected them.

We were approached by Aqua America prior to the RS&W Infrastructure Replacement Project and investigated the feasibility/merits of a privatization. It was determined it did not benefit the Community. Our research uncovered that the ultimate negative impact it would have on our customers, did not make this the right direction to pursue. We have provided a current example of a community, Coatesville, Pa, that recently privatized their system and witnessed the negative financial impact upon the community.

Some examples of the negative impact are:

  • A 230% Rate increase from 2011 – 2016
  • Quoted from Pa. American Water spokesman Terry Maenza: “The investment came with strings: We ask for a return on our investment because the capital we get to invest in those systems comes from shareholders”
  • Pa American Water has no competition and facing the responsibility to make a profit, the residents have less of a voice to prevent the increases.
    The cooperative relationship that currently exists between RS&W and the POA that share services, assist each other in emergencies, amenities, cooperative restoration efforts, etc. would most likely be eliminated with an outside company.

 

Listed below are some expected Loss of Services with Private Ownership:

  • Complete loss of power or authority, by the community, to manage and control future operations and rate increases.
  • Onsite service staff capable of responding to service calls and emergencies immediately would be lost.
  • As a nonprofit corporation “RS&W” there are no shareholders expecting profitable returns on their investment as would be with a “for profit” entity.
  • Lower interest Loan and Grant Finance options are more available to tax-free entities. The same is not possible with “for profit” entities.
  • Checks and balances are not regulated thus losing transparency and accountability.
  • Personal, professional customer service that has become synonymous with RS&W would be lost.

 

These are just a few examples. Please visit our web-site at Roamingwood.com to see more articles and information regarding the same as it relates to privatization.
http://crossroads.newsworks.org/index.php/keystone-crossroads/item/87370-what-your-city-can-learn-from-the-cost-of-water-in-coatesville-pa

We collectively as a board, and members of this community truly believe this overall completed project will provide The Hideout and its members with a state of the art sewer and water system well into the future. Having learned the ultimate lesson of the importance of forethought, we have made the necessary arrangements for future maintenance of this new system to be properly planned for and funded.

For those of you who have joined our Community recently, we will recount a brief history of this entity.
When the Hideout was originally constructed by Boise Cascade Corporation in the late 1960’s the Sewer and Water Company was owned by a private entity. Over the years as the system aged and the Community grew, problems with the sewer and water system increased dramatically.

The maintenance and repair of the system was slipshod at best and the external owners of the utility were completely unresponsive to our needs. To deal with this situation, The Hideout Board of Directors at that time proposed the purchase of the system to the property owners. After much deliberation and discussion within the Community, this proposal was adopted and the Independent South Wayne County Water and Sewer Authority was formed along with Roamingwood Sewer and Water Association. Over the years, despite the community’s best efforts, lack of funding and planning caused the system to continue to deteriorate and eventually required mandatory replacement which has brought us to our current situation. Previous Boards have been approached with the same notion of selling to a private company and have always denied the privatization for the reasons mentioned.

This massive project is well on its way to completion. Many of you might not be aware that this is the largest project of its kind currently in the United States and was recently awarded 2015 Project of the Year by Water and Wastewater Digest, a national publication. Previous and current members of this Board of Directors have worked diligently with State and Federal Agencies to obtain loans and grants to fund this project. To date, we have financed construction with a $25 million bond issuance, $32.8 million in low interest long term financing and $8.1 million in federal grants.

In cooperation with South Wayne County Water & Sewer Authority, the RS&W Board is pursuing additional funding to complete Stage III of the project. At this point, we have reason to believe that we will be able to successfully accomplish this financing, with hopes of some additional grants awarded to us. We would like to especially thank all the Hideout Members who participated in the membership petition campaign in 2015, to support RS&W and our efforts to address the need for grant money. A total of 44 pages containing approximately 620 signatures have been submitted to the State and Federal agencies with our applications.

We understand and appreciate many of you are upset with the increase in rates. While progress has a price, be assured we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact while we are in a Voluntary Corrective Action Plan with Department of Environmental Protection.

In conclusion, on behalf of the Roamingwood Sewer and Water Association Board of Directors, we greatly appreciate the efforts of Executive Director, Jack Lennox, the management team, and employees, many of whom live in The Hideout. It is with their efforts as well as the cooperation of POA Board President Mr. Arnie Milidantri, our Hideout Board of Directors, and our Community Manager Joe Acla, that we are nearing the last stage of a project that will provide The Hideout members with a sophisticated state-of-the-art sewer and water system for many years to come.

Thank You,

James Fleming and the RS&W Board of Directors