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UPDATE: Point Boro Votes Narrowly for Higher Water, Sewer Charges

Party line vote sees four GOP council members vote yes, two Democrats vote no

After months of discussion, a majority of the Point Boro Council voted on Tuesday night for a combined increase of about 6 percent in water and sewer rates to go into effect on Jan. 1.

After noting that because of how the rate increase is structured, even residents' efforts to conserve water will not result in much of a water bill savings, Councilman Chris Goss voted against the increase. Councilmen Chris Leitner also voted no.

The four other council members, John Wisniewski, Robert Sabosik, Antoinette DePaola and Bill Borowsky, voted yes. Mayor William Schroeder does not vote unless there is a tie.

Two residents at the meeting, Kathy Semek and Dennis Vitkauskis, said they opposed the increase, saying the rates should be based more on usage, rather than increasing the "Ready to Serve" rate, which is the rate charged to connect to the municipal water system.

The council voted to increase the sewer usage rate to $5.25 per 1,000 gallons, which is a 10-cent increase, and for the water usage rate to increase 2 cents, to $2.60 per 1,000 gallons.

Regarding the Ready to Serve charges, the new ordinance calls for $22 for water and $45 for sewer per quarter which is $26.50 more than 2013 rates.

The measure comes after the council tabled an ordinance earlier in the year regarding possibly hiking the Ready to Serve charges.

Point Pleasant residents have been paying a surcharge of $17 each for water and sewer, on top of the usage charges and ready to serve charge.

Council had agreed at a past meeting to keep the surcharge for the remainder of 2013, and had tabled an ordinance to raise the combined existing $40 ready-to-serve charge to a cost of $60 per quarter for water and $60 per quarter for sewer.

At the time, Borough officials said the changes were needed to fund the water and sewer departments, shrinking the department’s deficit to $300,000. 

The deficit is now about $250,000, said Wisniewski after Tuesday night's meeting. Wisniewski was the council member most involved in crafting the structure of the rate increases.

Wisniewski said it was difficult figuring out how to structure the increases, specifically how much to base on usage and how much to base on fully funding operating and other fixed costs for running the department. 

He said he believes the current structure strikes the right balance, but Goss disagreed and said the Borough should not have a rate structure that provides no financial incentive for residents to conserve water.

Wisniewski said when users conserve, it creates a deficit, which has been creating the need for water and sewer surcharges, something the council would rather not have to continue in years to come.

Leitner said after the meeting, when asked why he voted no, "I believe Point Pleasant would be better served by a tiered fee system to promote conservation. Our climate action committee has advocated for such conservation methods.

"The Sustainable Jersey program recommends water conservation in this way. Looking long term -- to our children and grandchildren -- we need to put these common sense incentives into play."

The Republican majority councilpersons present at the prior meeting --DePaola, Sabosik, and Borowsky – voted in favor of the ordinance’s introduction at the Nov. 19 meeting. Goss and Leitner had also voted against the introduction.

Rick Ricky December 03, 2013 at 10:57 PM
The water charges is ridiculous and out of control. It is like gold, increasing steady. The only problem and difference we need water and it is becoming unaffordable.
Victor December 04, 2013 at 09:22 AM
I would have liked to be at this meeting to also stand against yet another raise in services but I am working two jobs to pay my mortgage and absurd taxes. The next one to hold our head even further under water is the school upgrade referendum. I have an unusual idea..........how about looking to cut back expenses like the rest of us. Remember the people that keep voting yes for everything because its the easy and politically favorable and vote them out next election.
Christopher Goss December 04, 2013 at 10:49 AM
How much more will it cost taxpayers to wait until equipment fails instead of responsible upkeep and in a situation where the State is covering 40%? Our schools are an investment, not an expense, and if you want to maximize your ROI you take measures to insure and maintain it. Perhaps you would wait for your car or water heater or AC to die before you pay attention, but I wouldn't, and I'd be pretty PO'd if our schools treated our investment so carelessly.
Spooner December 04, 2013 at 11:51 AM
@Mr Goss- while we're on the subject of spending money, how does the Council defend the purchase of the old nursing home property on Arnold Ave for $2.8M, using up $148,500 in Open Space Trust Fund revenue, and to add more insult. . .paying off the former owners tax leans on the property"not to exceed $150,000" written in the purchase agreement. And let's not leave out the $60,000 pay off to the town's "pay to play" professionals from architects to lawyers written in the bond ordinance. And don't forget: down the road the construction contractors will be up at bat to share in more of the resident's money!
Alex Viecelli December 04, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Both sides are to blame here. They continue to put band-aids in the form of tax increases and surcharges on the problem. I look at it from a business standpoint. If its costing too much, get to the problem why, or like corporations do spin it off and get rid of it. More taxes and more surcharges are not the answer. Privatize, share services, or get rid of it. What did Point Pleasant do before there was a high school here? What did Point Pleasant do before we had city water for tax money? LIVE within there means. That's what they did.
Point Pleasant Conservative December 04, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Both parties have been kicking the can down the road for many years Alex. Chickens are coming home to roost. Mr. Goss-Nice to here you actually showed up at a meeting yesterday!
re-tired December 04, 2013 at 12:27 PM
Town should be audited by the state ....too much money being spent on things not needed ! We are still trying to recover from the super-storm and all these rate increases and extra spending are making it hard to survive . We need to increase the tax base not the taxes ! Empty lots and businesses do not make the town attractive . Cut the expenses sell off the parks there are plenty of recreational activities for the residents : hunting ,fishing ,boating ,swimming and sailing This is what we came to the shore for.Why did we buy this rec. center property? The majority of the residents will never set foot in it ! Who is making these decisions ,check their wallets...
Christopher Goss December 04, 2013 at 12:51 PM
Hi Spooner. I can't speak for anyone else but I am very glad that we have an opportunity to design and build a community center more appropriate to the needs of our town present and future. Not everyone may appreciate the need but I'm afraid they're in the minority. My Point Pleasant of the Future chooses to flourish rather than atrophy. Look at towns all over the state over the last half century; if you don't have a vision of the future and the courage to work toward the grandest goal your community is doomed to die on the vine. Pt Pleasant is struggling because of those in the past that chose the easy short-sighted path over the difficult long road.
Victor December 04, 2013 at 01:02 PM
In the minority? apparently you don't speak to a lot of residents. easy and shortsighted sounds a lot like the Point politicians.
Bill Borowsky December 04, 2013 at 01:04 PM
Chris- I totally agree with your last statement. Victor, I do speak to 100s of residents a day and the majority of them are very excited about the new community center.
Victor December 04, 2013 at 03:49 PM
So, none of those people mind paying more taxes? I must be on the wrong side of town.
Bowie Thelonius December 04, 2013 at 05:44 PM
My view of the "Point Pleasant of the Future" , is me, selling my house ASAP.
Christopher Goss December 04, 2013 at 06:14 PM
I don't like taxes, but what I get in return is what I feel to be the best community to raise my family in, and I want to see it grow and improve. Pt Pleasant is wonderful because of a lot of good people who work hard everyday because it's their community too. If you want low taxes, no schools, no parks and no costly infrastructure and services then you're describing a cabin in the woods not a healthy community.
Joe December 04, 2013 at 06:33 PM
Chris I agree with your last statement. Improvements , community center. All make a town thrive.
proud December 04, 2013 at 06:57 PM
@Bill Borowsky, could you be more specific? How many hundreds of residents do you speak to daily and are they different residents from day to day or the same hundreds each day?
Mr. Happy December 04, 2013 at 09:13 PM
@proud - since you live in LACEY, why do you care who Mr. Borowsky speaks to in POINT? Mind your own business please!
proud December 04, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Mr Lackey- since you live in your Mommy's house, you have no skin in the game, and should shut up. Mind your own business - and, by the way, the mayor needs a shine. Get busy!
Art Penrose December 06, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Christopher Goss, You obviously like to spend other people's money, and do it with impunity and with an attitude that you can spend that money better than the people who earned it can. Now, we have huge increases in water charges; we are told pumping stations need immediate replacement; we are told the schools are falling apart and need $16 million right now; and you talk about having a community center like its the best thing to ever happen around here? Are you kidding me?? Were we really not a healthy community without it? Are all the surrounding towns really lacking something because none of them have a community center?? Who's going to pay to run it, pay for utilities and personnel? More of my tax dollars? Goss, get your hands out of my pants! I'm tired of funding your kumbaya utopia.
Victor December 06, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Art, It does make you wonder why they are so anxious to get these projects started.
Rick Ricky December 06, 2013 at 06:03 PM
The people who is reaping all the benefits and rewards don't mind paying more for themselves. They will just get it back with the next raise. Its all the other peons who don't want or can afford any more increases.


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