Sewickley to leave QV Council of Governments group

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 | 6:54 PM

Starting in 2019, Sewickley will not participate in the Quaker Valley Council of Governments (QVCOG), an intergovernmental network that helps 15 communities in the northwest suburbs apply for grants and obtain affordable contracts for public works services, among other goals.

At a June 12 meeting, Sewickley Council approved a termination letter stating the borough’s intent to withdraw from QVCOG, effective Dec. 31.

“For us, the path or the focus areas that they have are just not the same ones that we have,” council member Hendrik van der Vaart said.

Van der Vaart said the withdrawal from QVCOG will allow Sewickley leaders to respond to constituent feedback in other areas.

“Roads are not in great shape, and we’ve got a huge list of repairs that we need to do, and we don’t have the budget to do it,” he said.

He also cited funding issues for Sewickley’s police department, mentioning some “old equipment” that needs to be replaced.

Membership in QVCOG costs the borough $3,300 per year, van der Vaart said. Before making the decision to leave, borough Manager Kevin Flannery did an analysis of what Sewickley would stand to lose if it withdrew from the organization.

Intergovernmental councils like QVCOG put out joint bids for services like waste collection, recycling and road salt purchasing. Member municipalities have independent contracts with service providers.

At a previous council meeting, during a discussion on QVCOG membership, Flannery said Waste Management will abide by the terms of its current contract with Sewickley for another three years.

A contract with the company Cargill for road salt purchasing will extend through June 2019, Flannery said this month.

When asked about cost increases for public works services, van der Vaart confirmed that there are none and that this was a precondition of Sewickley leaving the QVCOG.

“We’re going to keep our current contracts, and we can negotiate going forward at the same levels,” van der Vaart explained.

As Sewickley’s representative on the QVCOG board, van der Vaart acknowledged that the organization does good work. One of its top priorities is helping member municipalities obtain funds through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. However, Sewickley does not qualify for block grant money, which typically goes to lower-income communities.

The effect Sewickley’s departure will have on the QVCOG starting in 2019 is uncertain.

QVCOG Executive Director Susan Hockenberry declined to comment for this story, citing the need to discuss the matter internally first.

Sewickley leaders say they are ready to move on.

“In terms of our time and resources, we really need to be more focused, more prudent, especially if we need to keep costs affordable within Sewickley,” van der Vaart said.

Sam Bojarski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.