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May 6, 2008

Water Utility Rates Legislative Hearings Soon



Dear Mayor:

On Thursday, May 1, Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee Chairman, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, announced that he will hold hearings to examine the sharp rate increases of up to 93 percent, requested by several New Jersey water utilities, at a time New Jersey residents are facing record high gas and food prices.

Chairman Chivukula said the Assembly panel would examine the basis for calculations of rate increases and whether, and to what extent, an increase would be appropriate. Representatives from the utilities, the state's rate counsel and public advocate, the Board of Public Utilities, consumer advocates, and members of the public will be asked to testify.

According to the Chairman, the utilities committee will examine the quality, reliability and adequacy of water supply by utilities proposing a rate increase. It also will look into the utilities' delivery systems, efficiencies, and infrastructure.

We have reached out to Chairman Chivukula, indicating our interest in these proceedings. We have, further, expressed our hope that the Committee will consider the specific issue of ‘stand-by fees.’ These are assessed against municipalities and fire districts, on a per hydrant basis, not for actual water usage, but for the assurance of the availability of water, should it be needed. On that matter, Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried recently wrote an “As I See It” article (“Hunt for the Last Drop of Tax Savings Puts Focus on the Water Bill”) for the April issue of our magazine, New Jersey Municipalities.

If you are interested in the general issue or the specific concern about ‘stand-by fees,’ please contact Jon Moran of my office at 609-695-3481, ext. 121. And again, thank you for your action on this and for all that you do for the people of your municipality and of our Garden State.


                                                                        Very truly yours,


                                                                        William G. Dressel, Jr.
                                                                        Executive Director





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