HAMILTON, NJ -- Hamilton Township Mayor Jeff Martin announced on Thursday that the Township had filed with Mercer County Superior Court to become a "plaintiff-intervener" in the State's lawsuit against Trenton Water Works. The Township is arguing in legal documents that Trenton has used fees paid by customers to subsidize the City of Trenton's budget which "amounts to taxation without representation and an impermissible subsidy."
In documents filed by Hamilton Township Director of Law and Township Attorney Elissa Grodd Schragger, Esq., the four Mercer County municipalities serviced by TWW -- Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell Township, and Lawrence -- joined State authorities in efforts to force the authority to abide by mandated agreements or provide relief to customers.
The towns are further asking the Superior Court for relief "in addition to the remedies sought by DEP" including, but not limited to: forcing a sale of all water infrastructure to a private entity, oversight, and/or ownership interest in and proportional control over TWW.
Last month, New Jersey's Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe filed suit against the City of Trenton and Trenton Water Works (TWW) to force the water authority to take legally required actions to protect and strengthen the City’s water system, including actions necessary to reduce the risk of lead and pathogens in drinking water.
The towns argued that they have a right to join in the lawsuit "because Trenton and Trenton Water Works have continually breached its clean water obligations to the ratepayer residents of" their respective towns served.
Grodd Schragger wrote that the towns "intend to demonstrate that Trenton and TWW have improperly diverted surplus moneys to the annual Trenton City Budget: the same surplus which was intended to finance repairs and upgrades to the water system and, importantly, underwritten by the rates charged to the residents of the Plaintiff-Intervener Municipalities.
"Moreover, although residents of Plaintiff-Intervener Municipalities have been paying for water for years to TWW and underwritten the surplus," Grodd Schragger wrote, these towns "have absolutely no oversight or ownership interest in the water system, including those pipes that deliver water directly to their residents."
Oral arguments in the case will be made before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy on July 23.
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