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.