ROBBINSVILLE, NJ -- Robbinsville Mayor David Fried responded Wednesday to an announcement made at Tuesday's Hamilton Township Council meeting that Mayor Kelly Yaede's Administration would not support an independent sewer rate study strongly backed by Robbinsville Township. This is the latest impasse in an ongoing dispute between the neighboring municipalities.
Hamilton officials, who originally agreed to the rate study, have repeatedly claimed that Robbinsville, which offered to pay for half the cost of the study, owes its sewer utility approximately $1 million.
Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried called the announcement "yet another election year ploy devised to deceive the taxpayers of both towns."
“This study would reveal with real data what is fair and reasonable for both towns,” Fried said in a statement. “If Hamilton honestly believes we owe them $1 million, why wouldn’t they agree to a rate study that we were willing to help pay for? Residents concerned about many of the statements that have been made deserve to know the real costs of services provided. If Robbinsville does not owe that money, I am confident the study would show a massive deficit in Hamilton’s budget."
"I am convinced this entire sewer ordeal is another election year gimmick designed to artificially reduce taxes in Hamilton with November just around the corner, only for that massive budget hole to be filled on the backs of both Hamilton and Robbinsville taxpayers next year.”
“Once again, the Mayor has shown she will put politics over fighting for Hamilton,” said Hamilton Township Council President Jeff Martin. “I, and the Council, were 100% in support of an independent, objective rate study to ensure Robbinsville was paying their fair share both in the past and into the future. Additionally, the rate study also would have ensured an adequately funded sewer plant so as not to cause any plant disruptions or a bankrupt authority. A rate study, with Robbinsville willing to pay half the cost, was an easy decision which is what makes the Mayor’s abrupt flip-flop so confusing,” said Martin.
“Hamiltonians are all too familiar with what happens when you play political games with a utility and I will fight to make sure that does not happen here. I am exploring all options to make sure Hamilton has a well-run sewer department with Robbinsville paying their fair share for its services,” said Martin.
Since the beginning of the conflict over the sewer rate, Fried has left the door open for the two sides to come to terms.
“We want to be a good neighbor and pay our fair share,” Mayor Fried said. “However, I don’t see how we can do that without an independent rate study and an honest partner willing to negotiate and conduct the people’s business in good faith.”
Speaking with TAPinto Hamilton/Robbinsville on Wednesday, when asked about the reasoning behind declining the study, Kenny said "It's not needed, especially at this time."
He further explained that the sewer authority is currently undergoing a master plan revision and it would be, in his view, smarter to have that process complete before making any other changes or completing a study. He noted that Hamilton has not raised their sewer rates in 10 years and that they are among the lowest in Mercer County.
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