Township Committee Discusses Sewer Usage Ordinance

At the Cranford Township meeting on July 19th, commissioners talk about the new sewer usage bill, explaining the changes in greater detail.

By Catherine Felegi
July 20, 2011

In an effort to keep the budget for Cranford low, the township committee introduced an ordinance that would charge citizens based on their water usage, rather than a base property tax.

The controversial bill will charge citizens based on their home usage. Citizens way above the median usage rate will receive a letter from the municipality, granting them the opportunity to fix any leaks or issues that might cause an increase in usage rate. The rate will be determined by the water utility’s readings.

Citizens will be charged on according to tiers. Homes that use between zero and 75,000 gallons of water will be in the first tier and pay $175. Roughly two thirds of the houses in Cranford will qualify for the first tier. Homes that use over 75,000 of water will qualify for the second tier, and will owe $175 plus an additional 12 cents for each gallon after 75,000. Places using over 300,000, which are typically businesses, are urged to review the ordinances. Seniors citizens will receive a rebate of $125, and the Cranford school systems is exempt from the ordinance. Neighboring municipalities such as Clark and Scotch Plains currently utilize a usage-based sewer system.

“I don’t want another sewer bill, I don’t want another bill,” Mayor Daniel Aschenbach stated. However, he acknowledged that the usage bill would be a quality method to both allow payment for the water treatment the town needs as well as offer citizens a 1.95% increase in tax levy, one of the lowest on record.

“When you wash the dishes or flush the toilets… it goes several miles to the Rahway Sewage Treatment Plant and the water is treated there," he said. "That is a critical bill that has to be paid.”

Some citizens believe that the town needs to play a more active role in making sure the citizens are not over-charged for this bill.

“Perhaps the owner has a distill in the basement and is making a home brew and perhaps the meter reader has been sampling the product of the homeowner," resident Leo McMahon said. "I’m sure protective measures should not be the responsibility of the users, but should be that of the township and the developers that are working on this project."

Commissioner Kevin Campbell stressed that residents have control over the issue at hand.

“It’s [the homeowner’s] water bill… it’s their responsibility,” he said.
Commissioner Edward O’Malley hopes that this ordinance will “incentivize the conservation” of water.

An ordinance to reduce the speed limit on Walnut Avenue to 25MPH was also briefly discussed, but it has yet to bee approved by Union County. It has been introduced again and will be discussed at the August meeting.

The next Cranford Township meeting will be held on Aug 17th at 8PM