In re Chester Water Auth. Trust

Tighten your safety belts and keep your hands in the car because this opinion is a wild ride involving municipal law and statutory interpretation. In these consolidated appeals, the City of Chester and Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc. appealed from the trial court’s orders, which denied the motions for judgment on the pleadings filed by the City and Aqua in two separate but related actions. An en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court considered a narrow issue: “Whether section 5622(a) of the Municipality Authorities Act (MAA) continued to authorize a municipality to obtain the assets of a water authority that it created—a water authority that eventually expanded to provide water services outside the borders of the municipality and into other counties—in light of section 1 of Act 73 of 2012, which added section 5610(a.1) to the MAA and transformed the governance structure of such an authority”. The Court reversed. It held that despite section 5610(a.1) of the MAA, the City possessed the sole power under section 5622(a) to demand and compel the conveyance of the water authority and its assets by enacting the appropriate resolution or ordinance. The Majority noted that its decision was limited to determining whether the City possessed the general power under section 5622(a) to obtain the assets of the Authority. The Court did not decide the separate issue of whether the City can satisfy all of the conditions within section 5622(a) and obtain all of the assets of the Authority.

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