The city council has voted to rescind outdated sewer connection agreements and set new rates for six entities that connect to the municipal sewer system.
Council members approved the rate change for Clifton, Haledon, Prospect Park, Totowa, Woodland Park, and the Passaic County government on Tuesday night. The old agreements locked the six entities into decades-old sewer rates forcing Paterson taxpayers to subsidize homeowners in neighboring towns.
One agreement is nearly 100 years old, according to city officials. The six entities were given opportunities to negotiate new shared services agreements with the city last year, but there were no takers.
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres says the towns argued they were abiding by the old agreements. The new rates, adjusted for inflation, are based on a study that the city completed in 2001 called the “Killiam study” which established a baseline rate.
The city is undertaking studies to determine flow rates from surrounding communities and establish a new rate schedule. Those findings will be in before the end of January, according to the mayor.
“We’ve been talking about this for quite a long time,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large. He said this should have occurred long time ago.
Morris, chairman of the finance committee, suggested bonding money to pay for the meter installation expenses, and then billing the neighboring towns. He said this has the potential of bringing in revenue to municipal coffers which makes bonding acceptable.
The resolution approved by the council also allows the administration to take legal actions against the six entities.
The new rates for the six entities are as follows:
The mayor and others have said the goal is to make neighboring towns pay their “fair” share of the sewer usage fee. Over the past years, local homeowners have witnessed their sewer bills double. The same has not occurred for neighboring towns locked into old rates.