A search is underway to find a full-time manager for an authority in Somerset County.

Conemaugh Township Mu­nicipal Authority members took a first step last week, voting to reach out to area companies for insight and service possibilities, which authority Chairman Jim Frederick said remain open-ended.

“At this point, we’re trying to see what our options are – whether we’re better off hiring our own manager or going through a management company or something,” Frederick said last week.

The authority oversees a system that serves about 2,700 customers throughout Conemaugh Township and the Benson area as well as portions of the Jennerstown, Richland Township and Paint Township areas, he said.

Authority water is prepared for public use at a treatment plant above Somerset Pike.

Frederick said the authority has not settled on the duties a new manager might have, saying those duties could be office-focused or be expanded to include oversight of system maintenance workers or other responsibilities.

“Our employees run the plant,” Frederick said. “That wouldn’t change. The question is how much oversight should we have there.”

Authority member Albert Zuccolotto said he believes full-time water system management is overdue for Conemaugh Township.

“I think there’s potential for growth that we’re missing out on,” he said.

Zuccolotto said a qualified manager could seek grants to expand authority service to areas that have no public water.

“But we need to know what we want (from a manager) before we can move forward and start asking for proposals,” he said.

John Mastillo, a longtime board member, has served as interim manager for more than a year.

“The good thing is we’re not up against any deadlines,” Frederick said.

“But we’ve been kicking around ideas for quite a while now, and we want to see how we compare with other operators.”

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst.

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