SEWER PAYMENT DUE SEPTEMBER

In Cranford, sewer bills are coming in August, due in September

July 08, 2011
By Leslie Murray
Cranford Chronicle


CRANFORD — Residents may get the first bill under the new sewer charge system this summer.

Bills from the planned four-tiered rate system proposed earlier this year, and modeled off the system used in neighboring Clark, will be ready to be sent to residents in August, with a due date in September, Township Attorney Daniel McCarthy told the Township Committee this week.

While the township had the necessary data—usage amounts from October to March— from New Jersey American Water to begin calculating the rates in May, McCarthy said the information had to be processed to allow the bills to move forward.

Mayor Daniel Aschenbach said there will likely be a TV35 presentation on the new billing system, and repeated his comments that the billing system is out of necessity.

“We have a very significant problem ahead of us. Our sewer bill this year was $1.7 million. It should have been $1.9 million,” he said of the township’s assessment paid to the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority (RVSA).

Cranford had put a separate sewer bill in place in 2010 but yanked the ordinance when it proved unpopular among residents. However, earlier this year, McCarthy said the governing body in 2010 had actually repealed the wrong ordinance—lifting Ordinance 2010-33 an early sewer charge ordinance that was never adopted—leaving Ordinance 2010-40 which created the separate bill intact.

While the sewer charged dropped by $200,000 because of a use of surplus by the sewerage authority, Aschenbach said Cranford cannot count on that drop of the 2012 sewer assessment. Instead, he said the bill could actually top $1.9 million because the sewer assessment is based on a five-year rolling average, with Cranford’s lowest cost year being moved out of equation at the end of 2011.

While the sewer bills will likely arrive in residents’ mailboxes at the end of the summer, the Conservation Utility created earlier this year by the Township Committee has already gotten to work, Aschenbach said.

In June the group met with the RVSA and learned about two water meters in the town that are regularly out-of-line with normal flow rates. Township Engineer Rick Marsden said those rates imply those areas have significant rates of inflow and infiltration (I&I).

As part of the conservation utility and the new sewer bill, the governing body has considered including a maintenance program to reduce sewerage rates in some areas. Marsden said if the maintenance program were to include about $100,000 for capital improvements on the sewer system it would reduce sewer costs significantly.

“That gets us a good start and shows good faith that we’re dealing with our I&I,” Marsden said.