Westfield Town Council Votes to Keep Sewer Fee Flat in 2014

Councilman Frank Arena, Mayor Andy Skibitsky and Councilman Sam Della Fera. Credits: Jackie Lieberman

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield’s Town Council voted unanimously upon first reading of Ordinance 2014 to keep the current flat sewer fee for a third year at its Dec. 3 regular meeting. When the fee was introduced in March of 2012, council members had said that the fee could change from a flat rate per home or business to a consumption model based on water usage as soon as 2013.

The council expects to receive data concerning water usage in Westfield in the first quarter of 2013. They are now considering multiple models, beyond consumption or a flat fee.

Councilman Dave Haas said he was voting yes because the council would analyze the consumption model, though not as fast as he would have liked.  At the council conference earlier that evening he had questioned if the council could approve the flat fee for the first half of the year only. (The billing is timed so that approving only half the year might not work, Town Administrator Jim Gildea explained.)

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The council is concerned with making sure the fee is fair and equitable, Sam Della Fera, chair of the finance policy committee, had said at the council conference meeting.

“We want to do the job right,” Della Fera said. He told the council that, on a very preliminary basis, it appears that the cost to residents using a consumption model would be very similar to the cost of the current flat fee.

Others—including Haas and Councilman Frank Arena—expressed concern about the possible administrative costs of a consumption model.

A public hearing regarding the fee is planned for the next council meeting in two weeks, before a second vote is taken.

Also at the town council meeting, Town Clerk Claire Gray read a letter from Garwood Police Chief Bruce Underhill to Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky thanking Westfield and especially Police Chief David Wayman and his men for allowing the borough to use Westfield’s mobile communication trailer while Garwood Borough Hall installed a new generator. To read that story, click here.

At the council conference meeting, council members each received their payment for serving during the year 2013. Each member’s check, which they traditionally do not cash, was for one dollar.

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