Edison, NJ – In just 15 days, Edison residents will head to the polls to decide whether to allow the Township the option of privatizing the operation of both its water and sewer systems or whether the Township must manage those systems.
The Special Election will be held on Tuesday, September 10, between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Voters will be asked the following question:
Shall the Ordinance submitted by initiative petition, amending certain sections of Articles I and II of Chapter 27 of Edison Township Ordinances (the “Division of Water Supply” and “Sewer Utility”) and providing for the retention by the Township of the ownership, operation, management, control, and maintenance of its municipal water system and sewer system be adopted?
The Ordinance that will be voted on proposes to amend current Edison Township Ordinances to require the Township’s Division of Water Supply to retain ownership and begin the operation, management, control, and maintenance of the Township’s municipal water system. The Township’s Division of Water Supply would take control of the system at the conclusion of the of the Township’s present agreement with Edison Water Company.
If passed, the Ordinance also requires the Township to retain the ownership, operation, management, control, and maintenance of the sewer system.
A “Yes” vote is a vote to approve the Ordinance. A “No” vote is a vote against the Ordinance.
On June 3, a group of local residents and community activists delivered 4,985 signatures for a petition that ultimately triggered the special election. The campaign took off after residents learned about a 40-year, $811 million proposal to lease the Township’s sewer system and part of its drinking water system to Suez and the private equity firm KKR, a deal that was negotiated by Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey’s Administration.
The Ordinance, if passed, would effectively preclude the Township from exercising its discretion to privatize both its water and sewer systems.
Township officials estimate that Sept. 10th’s special election could cost at least $100,000 to hire poll workers, provide voting machines from Middlesex County, and make polling places available in Edison’s 78 election districts.
The Township Council could have adopted the proposed ordinance without a Special Election, but in a July meeting the Edison Council narrowly rejected the proposed Ordinance by a 4-3 vote, triggering the September 10 Special Election.
Councilmembers Ajay Patil, Joseph Coyle, and Samip Joshi voted in favor of the Ordinance. Councilmembers Robert Diehl, Alvaro Gomez, Leonard Sendelsky, and Michael Lombardi voted against it.
“Petition drive organizers worked very hard to collect signature from 4,985 residents who apparently support a voter referendum. The Township Council has given the petitioners exactly what they want: A chance for all registered voters to weigh-in on an important decision that will have a significant financial impact on Town Hall, on taxpayers and ratepayers,” Mr. Lankey said after that vote. The mayor also stated that he is not taking a position on the ordinance