Iron City Brewing has left town, but its unpaid water bill is still here, with the city's water customers left holding the bag.
No one is arguing that the maker of Iron City moved production to Latrobe so that the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority couldn't cut off its water for non-payment of debt. But it would be nice right now for the authority to have that kind of leverage over its chronic deadbeat.
As it stands, it may take a judge to settle the argument over whether the brewery owes the authority $1 million, as board member and City Councilman Patrick Dowd contends, or $450,000, as the company believes. The difference between the two amounts is huge, amounting to $6.62 per customer on the system, and turns on whether Iron City performed a promised $4 million modernization that would have qualified it for debt reduction from the authority.
Mr. Dowd has offered a resolution which could get a vote from the authority's board today. His proposal reasserts the system's $1 million claim to Iron City's debt due to failure of the brewer to fulfill its renovation pledge. It also directs authority officials to set up a payment schedule with the company and submit it to the board within 60 days.
That is action worth supporting, on behalf of not only the public authority but also the many Pittsburgh customers who pay their water bills on time. A company that produces 165,000 barrels of beer, as Iron City did last year, should be good for its debts. It's up to the authority board to hold the company to it.