EDITORIAL: Sell our Sewer/Water Utility
On April 19th, the Township Committee approved a resolution #2017-161 to acquire the professional “services of a Special Consulting Engineer to conduct a study of the Township’s Water and Sewer System for a possible sale of said systems”
Our water/sewer infrastructure is crumbling and requires repair/replace in multiple areas, such as our water pump stations, and sewer lines and pump stations throughout the township. The Minority Report Editorial staff believes the sale of the utility would resolve many problems that may involve future bonding, i.e. more debt, by the township. The State LFB (Local Finance Board) may or may not approve any future borrowing of funds with the current debt load of over $96 million the township must handle. (Currently, the township yearly budget is saddled with almost one-third contributable to the payment of that debt: proposed 2017 budget- $33 million, debt service-$9.56 million).
The sale of the utility was a serious consideration by the previous administration as Haddonfield was processing the sale of their system in 2014 to either one of the two available companies that can handle municipal utilities. One is Aqua (https://www.aquaamerica.com/our-states/new-jersey.aspx) and the other is NJ American Water (https://amwater.com/njaw/). Earlier contact by the Minority Reporter with several members of the previous administration indicated that the Township was in preliminary review/contact with Haddonfield officials and Aqua and NJ American Water.
Local media provided some oversight of Haddonfield’s possible sell.
Haddonfield finally sold its system to NJ American Water in 2014 for $28.5 million. http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/public%20works/Letter%20to%20Residents%20-%20August%202014.pdf
Haddonfield has one-third the size of residential properties that West Deptford has, which, in addition our Township has large business/industrial complexes. Therefore, the sale of West Deptford utility system very possibly may be valued over $75 million.
If the Township decides to sell, hopefully the Committee follows the lead of Haddonfield and other NJ towns that utilize some of the available funds to also pay down the overall debt, so as to provide property tax relief to the residents. See Haddonfield question “How will the $28.5 million proceeds to spent?” (http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/public%20works/Questions%20and%20Answers%20Brochure%20-%20August%202014.pdf)
For all residents, keep your eye on the ball to insure our community leaders make future decision-making transparent and available for public view and comment in this matter.