SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Residents will see a one-time $25 fee on their sewer bills, which will generate about $200,000 to cover legal fees due to a lawsuit over pollution of the Passaic River.

The Board of Trustees voted 5-0 on Monday night to approve an ordinance authorizing the fee. Trustee Michael Goldberg was absent.

South Orange is one of 11 towns that own and operate a wastewater treatment plant in Elizabeth. The Joint Meeting of Essex and Union Counties operates the plant. The JMEUC and its towns were named as third-party defendants in a massive lawsuit brought by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

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In related action, the board adopted a resolution authorizing the village to participate in a settlement of the pollution lawsuit. Under the agreement, the village would authorize the state to deduct $95,000 from state aid representing the settlement funds.

The agreement was negotiated on behalf of the village and other municipalities represented by the Municipal Joint Defense Group.

“That settlement is going to be subject to a fairness hearing in Superior Court,” Village counsel Steven Rother said. He added that the settlement probably will not be finalized until sometime in the fall.

In other action, the board:

  • Awarded a contract to Giordano Co. for purchase and processing of recyclable material collected in the village. The amounts to be paid can be found here.
  • Awarded a contract to D’Onofrio & Son Inc. to mow large turf areas for $29,185.20, and awarded a contract to Pat Scanlon Landscaping for landscaping, planting beds, hanging baskets, and maintenance and cleanup of large turf areas for $38,182.
  • Heard a report on the 2013-14 South Orange-Maplewood School District budget from Board of Education President Elizabeth Daugherty. The school district has scheduled a public hearing on the budget is scheduled for March 21. The $118 million budget represents a 2.93 percent tax rate increase.
  • Heard a report from Village Administrator Barry Lewis Jr. on the status of Village Hall renovations. “We are actively looking at interim office sites,” he said, noting that offices could be relocated sometime in June. When Trustee Deborah Davis Ford pointed out that was six months later than original projections, he said those projections, made before he came to South Orange, “were way too premature.”
  • Heard a report from Davis Ford that more than 80 people applied for the new deputy administrator position, and that five candidates are being interviewed this week.