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5/24/2019 - Public Information Regarding Robbinsville Usage of Hamilton’s Wastewater Utility

 

Public Information Regarding Robbinsville Usage of Hamilton’s Wastewater Utility

Due to recent statements by the Mayor of Robbinsville Township and members of the Hamilton Township Council, the following information is being provided to the public regarding Robbinsville’s usage of Hamilton Township’s wastewater utility.

·         Since 1976, Robbinsville Township has used Hamilton Township’s wastewater treatment system, through a shared services agreement, to treat Robbinsville sewage.

·         Despite ongoing statements by Mayor David Fried, Robbinsville has continued to use Hamilton Township’s wastewater utility (instead of leaving Hamilton’s treatment system)

·         On April 26, 2017, Robbinsville Township publicly announced in a press release that it was testing technology that it could use for “...turning wastewater from its municipal sewage pump stations to a fully self-contained, totally enclosed treatment facility generating potable water and electricity to run on its own.”  It was estimated that the system would “pay for itself in seven years and save $34 million in wastewater treatment costs by 2037.”  Mayor Fried stated, “If implemented, the project would be paid for out of capital expense fund and the sewer surplus.” Source: http://www.robbinsville-twp.org/news_detail_T2_R162.php  As of May 22, 2019 – over two years later – Robbinsville has not implemented this new technology that would allow the community to leave Hamilton’s wastewater system.   

·         Since 2017, Hamilton Township officials have continued negotiations with Robbinsville Township officials regarding the wastewater shared services agreement.  Mayor Kelly Yaede and her administration have expressed concerns that Robbinsville is not paying its fair share for the sewer services it receives through Hamilton Township.

·         On April 19, 2018, Hamilton Township informed Robbinsville that their community owed $3,047,192 for sewer service based upon data that illustrated Robbinsville provided 16.81 percent of the system’s total sewage flow. 

·         On July 10, 2018, Hamilton Township again informed Robbinsville that their community owed $3,047,192 for sewer service.

·         Also in July of 2018, an auditor retained by Robbinsville requested documents related to Hamilton Township’s wastewater utility, which Hamilton officials supplied.  Neither Robbinsville, nor its retained auditor, ever provided Hamilton officials with an audit or report in response.  This is of particular interest since, recently, Robbinsville Mayor David Fried and Hamilton Township Council President Jeff Martin collaborated to request a rate study of Hamilton’s wastewater utility.    “We do agree with Hamilton Council President Jeff Martin that an independent rate study is needed,” Mayor Fried stated.  Source: http://www.robbinsville-twp.org/news_detail_T2_R334.php

·         After Robbinsville was delinquent in paying its June 2018 quarterly bill, on July 20, 2018, Hamilton Township sent Robbinsville a bill referencing quarterly payment owed for June 2018, as well as upcoming payments for September and December 2018.

·         On August 8, 2018, Hamilton Township sent Robbinsville a wastewater utility budget report and requested sub-account information.    

·         On August 9, 2018, Robbinsville acknowledged receipt of the above information and expressed its desire to revive a liaison committee, referenced in the 1976 shared services agreement, to discuss major maintenance, equipment replacement and expansion of Hamilton’s wastewater facility. 

·         On August 14, 2018, Hamilton Township sent Robbinsville another bill, which outlined Robbinsville’s delinquency in the amount of $451,418, as well as upcoming quarterly payments for September 2018 and December 2018, where Robbinsville would owe $874,652 each payment.

·         On September 20, 2018, Hamilton Township sent Robbinsville a bill for $2,838,720, including for 2 outstanding quarterly payments.  

·         Despite continuing to use Hamilton’s wastewater utility, rather than leaving the system, in April of 2019, Mayor David Fried of Robbinsville called the State to take over or fiscally supervise Hamilton’s treatment plant, while Council President Jeff Martin Township Council contacted Governor Murphy’s Administration at the Department of Community Affairs to inform them that the Council would not approve the budget due to concerns about Hamilton’s sewer utility.  In an email, Council President Martin stated that “Council will not be passing a budget until such time as we are comfortable that these [referring to the sewer] budget anomalies are adequately addressed.”  Council President Martin also curiously stated during budget hearings his concern for “Robbinsville” taxpayers.

·         As of May 22, 2019, Robbinsville still owes Hamilton’s sewer system over $1 million for past service (Despite being billed for $2.8 million in 2018, Robbinsville only paid approximately $1.7 million) 

·         Budget documents show that Robbinsville anticipated collecting $3.1 million last year from for sewer services

·         Robbinsville’s own budget documents illustrate that it somehow piggy-banked nearly a half million dollars in sewer ‘surplus’ (during the time it owed Hamilton over $1 million)

·         Over the last two decades, Robbinsville’s percentage of flow into Hamilton’s sewer system has increased by 60 percent. 

·         Hamilton’s sewer system has not raised rates in over a decade.

·         On May 23, 2019, Robbinsville adopted a municipal budget with a tax cut of ¼ (a quarter) or a penny on their municipal tax rate, despite owing Hamilton for past service.  Hamilton refuses to subsidize Robbinsville.