Friday, January 23, 2009

PMUA Rates Increase

Sewer rates will increase by 14 percent for 2009 and solid waste costs will rise by 20 percent, according to figures given at a Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority rate hearing Thursday.

The last hike was in 2007 and before that, rates did not increase for three years. But now householders will be asked to pay $191.45 per quarter for solid waste costs, up from $159.65, and $578 per (Correction: per year) quarter for sewer services, up from $509.

Various other costs rose, including 40 percent more to clean up a trash-strewn property and 20 percent more to dispose of the debris.

Keith Henderson of T&M Associates gave presentations on both solid waste and sewer budgets for the authority, which was established in 1995. Before that, the city has a sewer utility that allowed property owners to deduct costs from their taxes, and there were private carters who contracted with property owners for trash removal.

The total solid waste budget for 2009 is $11,589,897, with salaries making up 33 percent of the cost and fringe benefits adding 15 percent. The main source of revenue is solid waste fees, providing 70 percent of income.

The $10,436,503 sewer budget derives its main income from usage fees and its biggest expense is paying the Plainfield Area Regional Sewer Authority $2.7 million for conveyance and pass-along costs for treatment at the Middlesex County Utilities Authority.

The solid waste presentation included long lists of charges, including those for container contracts and disposing of various kinds of waste at the transfer station. Ratepayers also share in costs such as downtown sweeping, pickup of trash from street receptacles and various municipal services. The entire rate table is on file at the PMUA office.

Just a few citizens came out Thursday to witness the proceedings, ask questions and make themselves known to the PMUA officials. Executive Director Eric Watson said he welcomed the interest and said a public survey will soon be conducted. In addition, information on ways to help sewer and solid waste systems work better will soon be disseminated in English and Spanish, he said.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievable, Bernice. Watson and the entire PMUA administration and commissioners need to go. How can they expect us to pay such high increases in this economy? It is my understanding that the commissioners go on trips and get paid stipends. Why don't they forgo their stipends in light of the rate increases? Also, Watson and Perry make in excess of $100,000 a year. Why don't they forgo raises this year? Someone asked why they have the meetings at a time when many people can't attend, yet they say they welcome public interest. I can guarantee that a "survey" will provide them with answers that show they are doing a good job. I don't trust self-surveys. The mayor and her PMUA cronies feel that they don't have to answer to us. Who's minding the store here? How can these people sleep at night? Please keep blogging on this. The people need to know how we're getting the short end of the stick by these officials. I don't like the politicization of the PMUA and I see the hand of certain state elected officials as well as the mayor in this, especially in the putting up of the name Don Davis. How much money have these commissioners and the PMUA executives contributed to the political campaigns of the mayor and of Jerry Green? It would be interesting to find out.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You so much for covering this meeting. At $3,000 a household a year we need to know what salaries are over $100,000 a year as that is as much as the staff at the White House is making !!

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found the meeting interesting. The PMUA folks were very nice and helpful in answering questions. But, it occurred to me that the taxpayers do not have any say in rate hikes. At least it did not appear that way. The budget was set and I believe there was no hearing on raising rates before the preordained rate hike.

Game - set - match

9:59 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

City Council President Rashid Burney is promising a joint meeting of the governing body and the authority. Maybe it will shed more light on how things work. Everything last night followed the letter of the law, it just wasn't as public-friendly as some might wish.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the increase in the cost to clean up a "trash strewn property" doesn't the PMUA have the City put a tax lien on the property when clean ups occur? And if so it is highly the likely the lien will be purchased at a lien sale. If this is the case why is the PMUA passing that cost on to the property owners in town. This is definetly double dipping! They get money from the sale of the lien and they are also collecting from the property owners!

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently looking into the legality of the rate hikes. Since the hikes weren't approved until Jan. 22, by law they must give residents 10 days notice of the hike. They didn't inform residents with adequate notice. It's also quite possible that the current "shared services" fee is an illegal tax. I should have some more information by next week. I am awaiting responses from the DEP. Also, I can't seem to locate PMUA's filing with the DEP for such large increases for sewer and solid waste. I will post any additional information as it becomes available.

FYI - there are six PMUA employees who make over $100K. All details are available on DataUniverse.

12:29 AM  

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