AUBURN | The water authority counter-proposal developed by Auburn City Manager Douglas Selby and two councilors didn't make it past city council Thursday.
Auburn City Council support for a Greater Auburn Regional Sewer and Water Authority was delayed when Council John Camardo asked that the item be tabled.
Camardo was concerned that the proposal for a regional authority with shared control of the water and sewer systems would violate the city's charter by taking away the oversight of the council.
"This may violate the charter," he said. "This whole creation of the authority might be in violation of our charter."
Camardo said the charter should have been looked at and interpreted prior to all the work that went into developing draft legislation for an authority.
The original proposal was developed by a task force. Councilors had concerns about the city's representation on the authority's board and giving up control of the city's facilities, so Selby and a subcommittee created a counter-proposal.
It included three water authority board members for the city instead of one, and included an arrangement in which the city would lease its facilities to the authority and retain ownership. The authority would take over operations.
But Camardo believes Article XI, Section C-116 of the city's charter clashes with the regional water authority.
"The Council shall have the power, and it shall be its duty, to take over, arrange and provide for the management, control and operation of the entire water system and plant of the City of Auburn...," the charter states. "...Council shall have power to adopt ordinances, rules and regulations for the protection and preservation of such waterworks, system, property, watershed, and the sources from which such water is furnished and to acquire such additional lands and rights as it may deem essential, to purchase, install and operate machinery, pumps, mains and all other equipment and to perform and discharge the duties herein imposed and to exercise the powers herein conferred."
Corporation Council John Rossi said he believed consultants did look into the charter, but agreed to take another look. Camardo introduced a motion to table the item and the council approved.
Councilor Matt Smith said the counter-proposal was a step closer to what council had been looking for.
"This proposal is much better than what was originally proposed by the towns," he said.
Smith, too, wanted to know if the city has the authority in its charter to lease its facilities.
Selby said the counter-proposal was a framework and he anticipates sitting down with task force members in the future to discuss any issues the five towns may have with the proposed changes.
"(Future discussion) might include changing the city charter," Selby said.
In other news:
• The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing Selby to negotiate the sale of city property to Mack Studios, which has expressed interest in buying the land in order to commence work on a $1.7 million building project that would add a warehouse/manufacturing facility to the lot adjacent to Mack Studios in Technology Park.