Sewer Connection Fee Frozen For Now
Committeeman: Township should not be charging the maximum amount allowable to hook up to the municipal sewer system.
After discussion that spanned several meetings on the topic, the Montville Township Committee voted to freeze the connection fee users pay to be able to hook up to the municipal sewer system, at least for now.
The committee began discussing lowering the proposed 2013 fee, $6,628 for sewer, last year, as Committeeman Scott Gallopo took issue with the township charging the highest amount allowable under state guidelines. The township's connection is higher than other, neighboring communities.
Sewer customers pay the fee to be able to connect to the sewer line and then incur additional fees to actually hook up. As conversation has continued on the topic, though, and even at Tuesday's township committee meeting, some officials have said that they do not anticipate a large number of new customers being affected by the fee.
"Montville Township is essentialy built out so the number of connections that we have coming to us in the near future are minimal," Mayor Tim Braden said.
Still, Gallopo said he found it "not business-friendly" that the township is charging at the maximum amount allowable, as calculated through a state formula. Gallopo said the formula and cap were created to prevent municipalities from gouging ratepayers.
"We've been charging that maximum forever. I object to that," he said.
But Committeewoman Deborah Nielson said she did not think it would be fair to ratepayers who paid the higher fee last year if the fee was lowered now.
Part of the intention of the connection fee is so that new customers contribute to the costs of the sewer infrastructure which existing customers had already helped contribute to. Committeeman Jim Sandham said about $56 million has been spent on the sewer system thus far.
"Some parts of that sewer system are no longer servicing the township," he said.
Sandham said he would be in favor of bringing the fee down to $5,500 and that it may be a way to entice developers to the township, including at the G.I. Auto yard, which the township has hoped to see developed for the past couple of years.
"If we want to encourage development in that area, it might make a nice incentive," he said.