EDISON – The Edison Township Council has awarded a four-year contract to hire an experienced, state-licensed director for its new municipal water and sewer utility.

The new director, Robert J. Smith of Newton, is to begin work Monday, managing the new utility’s day-to-day operation and personnel, and supervising maintenance for the municipal water and sewer systems. He is to be paid $170,000 per year.

“Mr. Smith has 27 years of public and private sector experience in water distribution and wastewater collection and treatment,” Mayor Thomas Lankey said.

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“He possesses the professional administrative, managerial and budgetary credentials that our township needs to provide quality service to our residential and commercial water and sewer
customers,” Lankey said.

Most recently, Smith served as superintendent for Hoboken’s newly-created city water utility and, previously, he was director of Sayreville’s water and sewer utilities for six years.

The Township Council also approved a $15 million bond issue on Wednesday to pay start-up costs for the utility, including the purchase of equipment, tools, vehicles, water meters, computers and software.

Edison is creating the utility to comply with a September referendum, at which voters decided the Township should resume management and operation of its South Edison water system after 22 years.

While the Township owns the water distribution system that serves 12,000 South Edison residential and commercial customers, it has contracted with American Water Co. since 1996 to operate and maintain that water system. That contract ends as of Dec. 31. The Township has always owned and operated its town-wide sewer system.