EAST GREENWICH — In their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12, the East Greenwich committee voted to raise water and sewer rates in 2024 for the first time in 13 years.
The decision comes as a consequence of New Jersey American’s contracted rate increase, which the township is no longer able to absorb financially. The vote was the only non-unanimous one of the evenings, with Deputy Mayor James Philbin and Committeewoman Eileen Hollingshead voting against the motion.
“I understand that we need water, and we have to purchase that water from New Jersey American. However, in good conscience, we are not being treated as a good customer,” said Mayor Dale Archer.
Residents should anticipate a rise of around $8 per household in water rates for East Greenwich. Despite this adjustment, the town will maintain its position in the lowest tier for water and sewer rates within Gloucester County.
The main driver for the rate hike is a 30 year non-recallable contract with New Jersey American that is set to auto-renew three times for a total of 120 years. After an executive session at the meeting, the committee discussed the possibility of authorizing their solicitor, Marla M. DeMarcantonio, to pursue litigation against New Jersey American Water for an inappropriate contract.
In addition to the contract, the water rate increase comes in part as a result of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protections (NJDEP) and Governor Phil Murphy mandating a $4 billion filtration system project for all municipalities that discharge water into the Delaware River.
“The bottom line is that after 13 years we are going to need to increase our sewer and water rates because of these underlying financial circumstances,” said Archer.
In addition to the rise in water rates, the committee also discussed the authorization to transfer three police vehicle titles to Harrison Township and accept one from them. While all four cars are out of commission, the salvaged parts will be used for refurbishment of other police vehicles in both towns. This initiative is aimed to contribute to maintaining the safety of residents in the two neighboring communities.
The committee ended their meeting by celebrating the success of seasonal events like the holiday house tour on Dec. 9 that included 14 stops at local businesses, historic homes, and places of worship that were all decorated for the holidays and the tree lighting on Dec. 3.
“Everyone did such a phenomenal job in making the tree lighting safe and secure and just an all-around great event,” said Archer.