Council fills four vacancies on MUA

| 08 Mar 2012 | 02:22

    WEST MILFORD — The township's Municipal Utilities Authority has nearly a full slate of commissioners after the township council appointed four residents to the vacancies.

    Ed Spirko, Ralph Heres, Bill Bassett and Paul McGill were approved by the council on Wednesday night. They join Carol Hardy and Louis Monico, who were appointed two weeks ago following the resignations of three commissioners. After those appointments were made, the remaining two members of the MUA board resigned, leaving the authority without a quorum. One meeting had to be canceled.

    Now there are five commissioners and one alternate. One more alternate position is still open in the hope of finding a volunteer with financial expertise, according to Mayor Bettina Bieri.

    Bieri and township attorney Fred Semrau met last week with representatives from the state Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Community Affairs and the Environmental Infrastructure Trust in Trenton. She called the meeting "productive and engaging."

    Bieri said the options for the future of the MUA were discussed and include:

    possible dissolution of the MUA

    sale of the MUA public/private partnership

    individual wells and septics to replace the MUA services

    "Most agreed, and I concur, that an eventual sale to a private entity would provide improved services, economies of scale and would be BPU regulated," said the mayor in a statement.

    There was progress with building the relationship between the MUA and the DEP, something that has suffered over the past few years as the fines against the township's utility increased.

    "As a result of our team effort, the DEP is offering an ACO – administrative consent order – which will stop the legislatively mandated fines from mounting," said Bieri. "It will stop the unnecessary bleeding provided progress is being made to rectify the violations in a most expeditious manner."

    The MUA provides water and sewerage services to 1,700 users in the township. Since 2009, it has racked up 180 DEP violations amounting to about $1 million in fines.

    To read the mayor's full statement, go to