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Hamilton Rejects Robbinsville Offer Of Sewer Rate Study; Files Suit in NJ Superior Court
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ – (August 21, 2019) – Hamilton Township Administration on August 20 announced it had reversed course and rejected calls for an independent sewer rate study strongly backed by Robbinsville Township in an effort to satisfy all parties in the ongoing dispute.
Hamilton then filed suit in New Jersey Superior Court August 26, 2019, claiming Robbinsville owes its sewer utility $2.8 million, this despite never producing an official invoice to back that purported debt.
READ LATEST ROBBINSVILLE ADVANCE COVERAGE HERE
Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede has recently increased that purported Robbinsville debt from $1 million to $2.8 million. She said in an interview with the Hamilton Post Aug. 22 that Robbinsville’s usage of the system has increased, from 15.9 percent in 2016 to 19 percent thus far in 2019, yet provided no proof of that increase.
On September 3, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office criminally charged Mayor Yaede and her campaign manager, Dan Scharfenberger, with a disorderly persons offense (2C:52-30) for publicly disclosing the expungement order of her opponent in the June primary.
Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried said he has seen spreadsheets and press releases claiming his township owes Hamilton seven figures but never an actual invoice for the amount.
“I’m feeling very confident saying that the mayor is not being truthful,” Mayor Fried told The Robbinsville Advance Monday.
Per The Advance report, Hamilton Council president Jeff Martin said Yaede and her administration have never presented Council with documentation or proof that Robbinsville owes anything, either.
“This goes back to why we wanted the rate study,” Martin said. “It’s so we could actually see a calculation.”
Hamilton operates a regional wastewater treatment facility serving residents of both Hamilton and Robbinsville. The sewage is ultimately treated at Hamilton’s Water Pollution Control plant before being discharged into Crosswicks Creek. Hamilton and Robbinsville have had a joint sewer agreement since 1976. Hamilton originally agreed to the rate study, which Robbinsville has repeatedly offered to pay half the cost of.
Yaede, in two separate news reports August 22, said her administration never supported a rate study and called it a “stall tactic.”
Video released Thursday proved the Hamilton Township Mayor and Administration was in favor of the rate study, despite its recent and very public denials.
Mayor Fried called the announcement, made during the August 20 Hamilton Township Council meeting, yet another election year ploy devised to deceive the taxpayers of both towns.
“This study would reveal with real data what is fair and reasonable for both towns,” Mayor Fried said. “If Hamilton honestly believes we owe them $1 million, why wouldn’t they agree to a rate study that we were willing to help pay for? Residents concerned about many of the statements that have been made deserve to know the real costs of services provided. If Robbinsville does not owe that money, I am confident the study would show a massive deficit in Hamilton’s budget.
"I am convinced this entire sewer ordeal is another election year gimmick designed to artificially reduce taxes in Hamilton with November just around the corner, only for that massive budget hole to be filled on the backs of both Hamilton and Robbinsville taxpayers next year.”
As he has from the outset, Mayor Fried has left the door open for the two sides to come to terms.
“We want to be a good neighbor and pay our fair share,” Mayor Fried said. “However, I don’t see how we can do that without an independent rate study and an honest partner willing to negotiate and conduct the people’s business in good faith.”