More meetings promised on MUA sale

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With a meeting room filled with Township of West Milford residents who are concerned about the proposed sale of the West Milford Utilities Company (MUA) representatives of the Suez New Hersey Water Company on Wednesday answered questions from residents on the subject. There will be more public meetings with the company representatives when additional information will be available and more questions will be answered.

There were two related resolutions on the council meeting agenda for action. Resolution 2017-275 was adopted by the council. It authorized the execution of an agreement between the township and Suez Water New Jersey providing for the sale of the assets of the township.

A second resolution (2017-276) was pulled from the agenda and held for later action. It authorized the execution of the Administrative Consent Order with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in connection with the sale.

Later this month there will be more meetings scheduled with stakeholders with dates of the meetings to be announced in the West Milford Messenger. Suez will also begin publishing additional information in the publication. The company will assess effectiveness of the communications strategy and review October plans.

In October, Suez will be in touch with residents via social media. They will send a postcard mailing to township residents regarding town hall style information sessions. There will be information available at the Autumn Lights Festival. Postcards will be mailed to residents asking them to vote “yes” on the referendum.

Answering questions from Township Attorney Fred Semrau and residents on Wednesday as to how the purchase of the MUA will affect the rates being paid by the customers in West Milford Suez said the purchase of the system will provide a much needed financially solvent corporation that plans to invest $5 million in the first three years for the overall improvement of the MUA system.

The long-range plan is to invest $30 million of capital improvements into it. Suez said this is all much needed and critical top health and safety of the users of the system.

In order to achieve this Suez will be utilizing the support of their efficient operations and have the ability to financially support this system with its own capital while maintaining a rate structure that is consistent with the WMTUA’s rate structure. The difference is that Surez has the capital infrastructure to support and improve the system.

Still answering Semrau’s questions Suez representatives went on to say that a historical review of MUA and the proposed rate structure of Suez for the members of the WMTMUA system are very consistent.

In other words, the proposed rate structure does not differ from this historical rate structure of the MUA, the difference being that Suez attempts to infuse capital and investments in the system without changing this rate structure.

The representative of the water company explained that the prior MUA did not have the capital infusion only to result in hundreds of violations from the NJDEP for numerous drinking water concerns.

Suez serves hundreds of thousands of customers throughout the Northeast and the United States and has exceptional records in customer service and compliance, the representatives said.

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