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Mayor Dave Fried Calls for State Oversight of Hamilton Sewer Utility
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ – (April 26, 2019) - Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried adamantly rejects the comments made by Hamilton Township Business Administrator Dave Kenny at a special public budget workshop on Tuesday, April 23 and is calling for State intervention of the Hamilton sewer utility.
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.
After testimony before Hamilton Township Council from Carrie Feuer, Director of the Hamilton Township Department of Water Pollution, warning that Hamilton’s sewer utility could be bankrupt by the end of 2019, Mr. Kenny attributed the associated revenue shortfall, in large part, to Robbinsville Township “reneging” on its 43-year-old sewer agreement. Mr. Kenny also falsely claimed Robbinsville, which accounts for approximately 15.89 percent of sewage and water “flow” into the Hamilton treatment system, is in arrears and “owes (Hamilton) well over $1 million additional dollars.”
“It’s clear this administration has no idea what they are doing,” Mayor Fried told The Trentonian Thursday. “I think the state has to step in. That budget was completely irresponsible. We are appalled the Administration gave Ms. Feuer a budget one day before the budget hearing and cut that budget to the point where the sewer authority could run a significant deficit by year’s end. This administration has no idea how to manage long-term debt and they are certainly not using the tools provided to them by the State of New Jersey. In conjunction with Hamilton Township Council president Jeff Martin, we are going to ask the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to execute a deeper dive of this budget and its repercussions regarding that sewer utility. Shame on the Administration for throwing their own director under the bus and shame on them for continuing to misrepresent the facts regarding our sewer agreement.”
How we got here: In October of 2016, Robbinsville Township received an invoice from Hamilton Township that was decidedly more costly than usual. Since Robbinsville’s billing had been based on its percentage of flow going into the treatment plant, and Hamilton reduced the total amount of water going into the plant due to repairs and upgrades (which reduced infiltration) Robbinsville suddenly was responsible for 19.61 percent vs. 15.89 percent the previous year. This resulted in a $472,557.22 increase in the Robbinsville bill.
Additionally, of the more than 300 miles of piping that makes up the Hamilton sewer infrastructure, Robbinsville flows through only nine miles of that system, or roughly 2.1 percent.
“I guess it is easier to blame us for their deficit as opposed to announcing an election year rate increase due to their mismanagement of the utility,” Mayor Fried added. "if you are going to tell me I owe you $1 million, you at least have to show me how."
Per the agreement, Robbinsville is only responsible for a service charge that shall be sufficient to defray the cost to maintain or construct new facilities along the approximately nine miles of piping its waste flows through. Hamilton and Robbinsville had tentatively agreed on the parameters of a new agreement in early 2019, but Mr. Kenny repeatedly kept “moving the goal posts” by inserting and/or eliminating terms previously agreed to.
“We agree with Council President Martin that an independent rate study, in which Robbinsville will be happy to pay half the cost, and an unbiased set of eyes are needed to look at all of this and hopefully guide us toward an amicable resolution,” Mayor Fried said. “If that does not happen, we will use every tool at our disposal, including the courts, to expose the half-truths and outright fraudulent claims repeatedly made by Mr. Kenny and this increasingly disingenuous administration.”