Montclair, NJ – When it comes to water, they say every drop counts. The same goes for dollars coming into Montclair from Glen Ridge for water transmission.
The Township of Montclair and the Borough of Glen Ridge both obtain their water from North Jersey District Water Supply Commission (NJDWSC), but the Borough of Glen Ridge relies on Montclair for its water transmission. Glen Ridge contracts with Montclair to have its water delivered at suitable pressure through Montclair pumping stations.
In April 2015, in a letter to Michael Rohal, Borough Administrator for Glen Ridge, Montclair director of Utilities Gary Obszarny discussed the Montclair Water Bureau reevaluating its water transmission rates.
“In the Borough of Glen Ridge’s case, rates were last set in 2008 at $543.00/MG. Between that time and 2015, costs have risen significantly. Previous Township Manager Marc Dashield agreed with you on a 10% increase. This will be followed by additional increases over the next few years,” Obszarny wrote.
He then stated that the new rate for the Borough of Glen Ridge would be $598.00/MG, adding that the effective date of this new rate was May 1, 2015 and that the rate would remain in effect through April 30, 2016.
Obszarny also wrote that the Township Attorney would send copies of the new contract for the purchase of water based on this new rate. Both Town Manager Timothy Stafford and former Township Attorney Ira Karasick were copied on the April 2015 letter to Glen Ridge.
But the rate of $598 was never increased in 2016 and Glen Ridge continued to pay Montclair to pump its water at 2015 rates. Now, in April 2023, an increase is finally happening.
At the last Montclair Township council meeting, the Council passed a resolution authorizing a new rate for its water transmission contract with the Borough of Glen Ridge — for the first time since 2015.
The resolution states that…”for each year after April 1, 2023, the rate per million gallons will be established by a mutual agreement on the basis of current costs for pumping, power, labor, materials, depreciation of equipment, and transmission main maintenance. In the event that both parties do not agree to the establishment of a rate per million gallons for each year after April 1, 2023, this contract may be voided by either party by serving a statement to that effect upon the other party.”
The new rate is $1204.41 dollars per million gallons — more than double the rate of $598 dollars from 2015.
During public comment, Montclair resident Eileen Birmingham stated she was happy to see resolution to raise rates Glen Ridge was paying to transmit water, especially since Montclair residents have seen increases in their water bills.
“I was very happy, Mr. Scantlebury, to hear a third party was engaged to tell us what might be a fair amount for Glen Ridge to pay, and in fact, they told you that Glen Ridge should be paying more than double what they are paying now,” said Birmingham, addressing the acting town manager. She added there is a real need to look at what happened, why the rates were never raised and whether the Township lost out on several hundreds of thousands of dollars due to a failure of management.
“I don’t know who is ultimately responsible, but I think we should understand the root cause. Glen Ridge is not our poor, little sibling,” said Birmingham of Glen Ridge. “They are one of the wealthiest towns in the country.”
Birmingham also questioned why Glen Ridge was paying only $65,000 for Montclair to maintain its water and sewer systems.
“Thank you,” said Councilor Peter Yacobellis to Birmingham. “You shined a light on this, that we hadn’t raised rates in years.”