Town Mulls Options for Water and Sewer's $4M Cash

Lowering rates, sending rebates, paying off debt and a ratepayer 'holiday' are among the options officials have mentioned.

Members of the Montville Township Long Term Financial Planning Committee will be wrestling with a multi-million-dollar question that Township Committee members want addressed as soon as possible: What should the town do with about $4 million cash that the has on hand from operating at a surplus in recent years?

Lower rates? Send customers rebates? Keep the money to pay off debt? Or, should the town give ratepayers a "holiday" one pay period, an idea mentioned by Mayor Jim Sandham at the Township Committee meeting on Tuesday?

Robert Lowenfish, the town's interim director of finance and a longtime member of the Long Term Financial Planning Committee, said there are a wide range of options to be considered.

While Township Committee members said they have been questioning for more than a year whether the Water and Sewer Department was operating with too much of a surplus, the projected surplus for 2011—$651,937 for sewer and $175,000 for water—is larger than expected because the department's expenses were lower than anticipated, Lowenfish said at the meeting.

Committeeman Scott Gallopo said he is uncomfortable with the situation and disappointed it wasn't already addressed.

Officials said a preliminary look at the overall 2012 municipal budget numbers shows the town is expected to be in sound financial shape. Depending on revenue assumptions used, the budget could stay flat or increase by about 2 percent, though it's still early in the process.

"It's good indications," Sandham said.

Dan Pagano December 20, 2011 at 05:40 AM
Cynthia, Montville does not have a Town Council, that would be a Borough form of government where the Mayor is selected by the voters at the polls. Montville has a Township Committee where the Committee members are selected by the voters and a Mayor is selected by the Committee members. Tomorrow at 7 pm the TC will be discussing who will be the next Mayor. On Jan. 26, 2012, 7 pm at the Senior House the Tea Party will hear guest speakers Committeeman Tim Braden and past Committeeman Dan Grant discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of government. All are welcome. Please consider attending because you have again clearly missed the point. My comments do not reflect my view that I can do better, I believe we deserve better and the TC can and must do better. A $4+ million surplus is indefensible because residents were overcharged and now no one knows how it happened.
Truscha Quatrone December 22, 2011 at 05:48 PM
In 2009 I wrote an open letter to the Township Committee regarding the proposed Sewer and Water rate increases. I have attached below an email from the Township Administrator CC to the Director of Sewer & Water and the Committee. Please note the last line of the email. G~ iI Truscha Quatrone <truscha@gmail.com> Sewer Rate Increase Meeting Frank Bastone <fbastone@montvillenj.org> Fri, Mar 6, 2009 at 4: 13 PM To: lruscha@gmai l.com Cc: Township Committee <TownshipCommittee@montvi llenj.org>, Tom Mazzaccaro <tmazzaccaro@montvillenj.org> Truscha, I need 10 address some of the misconceptions in your e-mail conceming. • The Township does not have a deficit. • The Sewer Utility is a separate budget from the Township budget. The sewer utility budget is supported by sewer fees. • The Water Utility is a separate budget from the Township budget. The water utility budget is supported by water fees. • The sewer rate increase does PREVENT the sewer utility budget from incurring a deficit, by generating the necessary revenues to meet the sewer budget over the next 4 years. • Water rates were not raised "a little" over a year ago. Water rates have not been raised since 2003. • We do not need to "increase taxes to close a deficif', we need to raise sewer rates to generate the necessary revenues to meet the sewer budget over the next 4 years. The sewer utility will have a deficit if we do not raise sewer fees. Frank Bastone, Montville Township Administrator
Charles Dyak January 04, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I don't beleive the township committee is there to micro manage the township employee's. They recieve reports from the different administrators and act if needed based on the report. If the surplus was reported to them a while back and it was swept under the carpet or hidden in tax relief then shame on them. If they were not aware of this surplus and learned about when it became public knowledge then shame on the Director of water and sewer. I would not assume all committee members had this knowledge at the same time.
Dan Grant January 05, 2012 at 02:01 PM
It isn't micro managing to allow a Department to accumulate $4.8 million in a surplus and take close to $1 million per year year from one group of people ( rate payers) to pretend you are lowering taxes while you raise rates for that group. In addition Property Taxes are deductable. Water and sewer bill are not. When they raise non-deductable rates to decrease fully deductable taxes it is kind of a double penalty on the rate payers. Every Departments expenses and revenues are reviewed every year (or should be ) as part of the Budget Process and it is a duty of every Committee Person and the Administrator to understand what each represents. You don't need to be a CPA to understand what happened here and who is responsible. This buck (or $4.8 million of them) stops with the Township Committee.
Irwin Guterman February 16, 2012 at 12:20 PM


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