WESTFIELD, NJ — The municipality is passing along the cost of increased sewer flows to the public, officials said.
The Town Council approved annual sewer fees for single-family-homes at $195, marking an increase of $30 over last year’s fee of $165, according to the resolution approved by the council Tuesday. Citing correspondence from the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said increased sewer flows prompted the price hike.
“It’s a five-year moving average, and every town is assessed based on their flows,” Gildea said.
Council members approved the increase 8-1. Councilman Mark LoGrippo was the only member to object. He cited residents’ overall concerns about affordability. Other council members did not share his views about the sewer fee.
Mayor Shelley Brindle said the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority has increased its fees by $750,000 over the last three years, and increasing the fee to residents would have the town subsidize half of the charges from the sewerage commission as it had originally done when it instituted the fee in 2012.
“As we look at this year’s budget, the Town is now subsidizing close to 60% of the RVSA costs for our residents, while many municipalities in the state provide far less or even no resident subsidy for sewer expenses,” Brindle said in a statement released prior to Tuesday’s meeting.
By hiking the fee, the municipality will continue to subsidize half the cost, officials said.
“This is a rebalancing: 50% to the residents and 50% coverage to the town,” said Councilwoman Linda Habgood, who chairs the finance committee.
The fee for commercial/industrial properties is also increasing from $415 to $575, under the resolution. And the fee for multi-family homes increases from $100 to $120 per unit, according to the resolution.
LoGrippo asked that the resolution be tabled for further examination — a request the rest of the council did not approve.
“The biggest thing I hear being on the town council is affordability for residents,” he said.
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