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TOWNSHIP ASTON AND FRANCIS J. ROBINSON v. SOUTHWEST DELAWARE COUNTY MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY AND MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP (01/11/88)

decided: January 11, 1988.

TOWNSHIP OF ASTON AND FRANCIS J. ROBINSON
v.
SOUTHWEST DELAWARE COUNTY MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY AND MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP, DELAWARE COUNTY SEWER AUTHORITY. TOWNSHIP OF ASTON, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of Township of Aston and Francis J. Robinson v. Southwest Delaware County Municipal Authority and Middletown Township Delaware County Sewer Authority, No. 85-07578.

COUNSEL

Nicholas J. Emper, Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach & Monte, for appellant.

Janice M. Sawicki, for appellee, Southwest Delaware County Municipal Authority.

Robert B. Surrick, for appellee, Middletown Township, Delaware County Sewer Authority.

Judges Craig and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Narick.

Author: Narick

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 435]

This is an appeal by the Township of Aston (Aston) from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County denying Aston's request to void the contract entered into between its municipal sewer authority and that of Middletown Township.

The facts at trial were stipulated. In 1957, Aston, by way of ordinance, formed the Southwest Delaware County Municipal Authority (Southwest) pursuant to Section 3 of the Municipality Authorities Act of 1945 (Act), Act of May 2, 1945, P.L. 382, as amended, 53 P.S. § 303. The function and purpose of the Authority was to provide for the treatment and disposal of sewage from Aston Township and those surrounding municipalities wishing to utilize the plant and its facilities. The present participating municipalities are Aston Township, Middletown Township, Chester Township, Upper Chichester Township, and Brookhaven Borough.

On January 10, 1968, Southwest entered into a contract with Middletown Township, Delaware County, Sewer Authority (Middletown) which enabled Middletown to connect to the Southwest system and use Southwest's treatment plant. Section 5 of the agreement provided for the method of calculating Middletown's payments for use of the sewage treatment plant. That section set the current rate charged to Middletown by Southwest at $23.85 annually per E.D.U. (equivalent dwelling unit). The agreement was initially for a 40-year period and did not provide for an increase in the above-stated annual rate per E.D.U. over the life of the contract,

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 436]

    which was subsequently, by agreement of the parties, extended to a 50-year term.

Southwest, in September 1984, and again in July 1985, adopted a resolution increasing Middletown's rate to $74.70 per year per E.D.U. On both occasions, Middletown refused payment of the increased rate, insisting that the rate was fixed by the 1968 Sewage Treatment Agreement at $23.85 and could not be increased during the term of the contract. The present rate charged by Southwest to the other participating municipalities for sewage treatment costs is approximately $80 per year per E.D.U.

Aston alleged in its complaint that Southwest exceeded its authority as set forth in Section 4B(h) of the Act, 53 P.S. § 306B(h) by entering into an agreement with Middletown which prevented Southwest from charging a "reasonable and uniform" rate to all users. Aston requested that the agreement be voided so as to allow Southwest to establish a reasonable and uniform rate for all ...


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