GLEN ROCK - The mayor of Glen Rock said he and representatives of Midland Park and Wyckoff involved in a class action lawsuit alleging Ridgewood Water overcharged its customers are working on setting up a meeting with attorneys to determine what the July 20 decision in the case means for ratepayers.
"I am happy that the judge ruled in our favor but am still working to understand the exact terms of the settlement," Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer said. "We will be meeting with the attorney that was retained by Glen Rock, Wyckoff, and Midland Park in coming days to gain a better understanding of what the settlement means to our residents, who were overcharged for all of these years."
The lawsuit, filed in 2010, alleges the 21 percent rate increase in 2010 and another five percent in 2011 and 2012 were used to fill in gaps in Ridgewood's municipal budget.
Wyckoff originally filed the suit with Midland Park and Glen Rock joining a year later. Ridgewood Water serves those three towns and Ridgewood.
Accountant Gary Higgins and attorney Joseph Fiorenzo defended the towns in the lawsuit.
The courts and the Board of Public Utilities have grappled with the case, which came to a conclusion after approximately seven years.
Municipal officials said the evidence shows certain items were being charged to the water budget that should have been charged to the municipality's general operating budget, therefore spreading Ridgewood's bills over four towns. Ridgewood has since ceased to charge those items to the water budget.
Both sides petitioned for summary judgment after three years of discovery and motions. In 2014, the judge sent the case to the Board of Public Utilities.
The Village of Ridgewood response to the 7/20/17 ruling, signed by Robert G. Rooney, Acting Village Manager/CFO, said it was "pleased" with the decision.
"Ridgewood Water and the Village of Ridgewood are pleased with Judge Friscia’s decision and see the ruling as fair and thoughtful," Rooney said. "Invalidating the three ordinances of 2010, 2011 and 2012 will allow the current Village Council to recalculate prior rate increases based on input from qualified experts. Further, the decision affords the Village the right to take the statutorily permitted surplus not taken in previous years, if appropriate.
"We believe Judge Friscia took a balanced approach based on plaintiff’s failure to prove damages and the court did not award the plaintiff's litigation costs or attorney fees. Ridgewood Water joins in the effort of the court’s decision to halt additional costs to the rate payers."
"In the absence of a plaintiff appeal," Rooney states, "the Village looks forward to a quick and reasonable resolution of this matter."