Here’s a copy of a letter sent by Sheila Bass, a Northampton resident and member of the Northampton Township Municipal Authority, on October 22, 2009 to the Bucks County Courier Times Letters editor in response to a published letter from another citizen.

gop_buttonThe words are the same, except for a few typos, but the letter’s layout have been altered slightly to make them easier to read online.

From: Sheila Bass
Date: Thursday, October 22, 2009, 1:15 PM

As a person who has been actively involved in Northampton civic affairs for 35 years and currently a member of The Municipal Authority, I find it necessary to correct the ill-informed misstatements of John L. Harris in yesterday’s guest opinion.

The proposed Senior Citizens Center has been built and has been in operation for several years now. The money stolen by a crook has all been recovered including all accounting and legal fees. Are you saying that when someone steals from you that means that you are a thief?

With respect to the sewer issue there are some facts that need to addressed. There have been 4 times since the late 1970’s that sewers were offered to the residents of Traymore Manner, once in 1985 without the front foot assessment. Each time the residents were quite vocal in their opposition and the Board listened.

Other than the College Park system, all other sewer projects were paid for by the affected property owners. In fact the large
project of the late 1970’s was made into a seperate district because of the extra assessment to pay for the job.

Before we delve into the costs of the present project it is important to know how it began.

In the spring of 2007 Rodger Bushnell, upset about the failure of and cost to replace his septic system, called and then wrote to Clinton Cleaver of the PaDEP to complain and to have sewers that were scheduled for installation in 2012/13 to be pushed forward so that he would not have to pay for a new on lot septic system.

This is what triggered what we are going through now.

As to Gravity vs. Grinder Pumps all options were investigated and for the most part gravity won out as the most economical over the 40 year life expectancy of the system.

Mr. Harris asks where the estimates of $50,000 came from? They came from Frank Rothermel, fresh from a big win, who seized on this issue in his effort to gain control of the township in 2009.

For Rothermel and later his alter ego Marvin Gold, sewers were never the real issue, the real issue is and always has been control of
the Board of Supervisors.

Without going into all of the numbers that Mr. Harris lists, the bottom line is that the final installed cost to the average property owner in the west end is approximately $23,500 minus $8000 in grant money for a net cost of $15,500. There is also another Federal grant of $500,000 that, if received, will lower the costs by another $1000 or so.

The most important part to remember is that unless a septic system is considered failed by the Bucks County Board of Health, or the property owner so chooses, there is no mandate to tie into the system. The only mandate to tie in is if the system fails or the property is sold to a non-family member.

Keep in mind that if there is no tie-in there is no cost for 5 years and then only interest has to be paid until eventual tie-in or sale of home.

Mr. Harris states that the cost is five times the cost of previous sewer installations: the cost of everything is five times higher than 30 years ago.

Remember, the sewers were offered free of the assessment in 1985.

As for the value of the referendum, this is because if it passed and the Municipal Authority were to pay for the west end it would also be obligated to pay for the eventual sewers for the 2000 or so homes yet to be sewered in the future.

As for senior citizens moving out of the township, this is incorrect, we have had a building boom in 55 plus communities in Northampton in recent years, in fact this may be the largest growth in population.

In summary, we, as public officials expect and are accustomed to legitimate criticism, it is part of the job. However, when such criticism is so completely distorted and mischaracterised, we are obligated to set the record straight so that the citizenry can make informed decisions that will affect our lives for years to come.


66 Keenan Lane
Holland, Pa. 18966

home 215 xxxxxxx
cell 215 xxxxxxx

Note 1: Ms Sheila Bass is the former Vice President of Government Banking for Summit/Fleet Bank, the former Vice President of operations for Atlantic Financial Federal Savings Bank, a former Director of Purchasing for The County of Bucks, a Director/Administrator, Federal Lands Reuse Authority. Responsible for the closing of and reuse of the NAWC in Warminster in addition to being a Board Member and Treasurer of The Northampton Bucks County Municipal Authority.

Note 2: The Northampton Municipal Authority’s recent Newsletter sent to all Northampton residents points out the following:

“…the Authority’s plan sets the sewer benefit per residential property at $4,366. And now, after much creative brainstorming, a financial plan has been adopted by the Authority Board that allows property owners to defer payments well into the future when service is required or desired by the owner. Once the project has been completed, payment of the benefit assessment will not be due for five years, with no interest accruing during that period. A special tapping fee of $10,000 is due upon connection to the sanitary sewer system.”

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