Tuesday, July 11, 2017

TWO COMMENTS ABOUT PMUA/COUNCIL MEETING



These joint meetings with The Council and the PMUA are pointless because no matter what questions or issues the Council raises, the PMUA can just ignore them and continue business as usual with the knowledge the Council will never muster the political will to exercise their one and only oversight option which is to dissolve the PMUA. The Council questions did expose PMUA’s eternally flawed argument; 'We have this big organization and our costs to maintain it drive our high rates.' The fundamental flaw is that the PMUA was not chartered to build and maintain a big organization. It was chartered to provide trash and sewer services to the citizens of Plainfield as efficiently and cost effectively as possible. As ratepayers, want to see the PMUA provide those services at or below the market rates charged for those same services in the other cities and towns in our county.

The 2012 PMUA Task Force Study both Councilman Storch and Mr. Crownover cited had comparable data that demonstrated how excessively PMUA overcharged for trash and sewer services compared to the City of Union. The collected data was:

Data Item
Union
Plainfield
Population
56,000
49,500
Solid waste tonnage
18,475
18,461
Trash & Sewer Employees
76
171
Solid waste Budget
$3.4 Million
$12.1 Million
Sewer Budget
$5.2 Million
$10.3 Million
Total Trash & Sewer Budget
$8.6 Million
$22.4 Million
Difference

+$13.8 Million

PMUA rates also compare extremely negatively to Grand Sanitation. For twice per week curbside trash pick-up and every other week recycling pick-up for a single family home, PMUA charges $61.67/month while Grand Sanitation charges only $30.97/month. PMUA tries to explain away this massive overcharge by claiming Grand doesn’t have to deal with massive shared services. The fallacy with this argument is that the actual tonnage from shared services accounted for only 77 tons of the 18,461 tons PMUA collected during the year of the PMUA Task Force study. However, anyone who opts out of PMUA’s solid waste services will be hit with an ongoing $27/month Shared Service Fee, which amounts to 45% of the monthly PMUA solid waste fee. Given the fact that the shared service tonnage is less than ½ of one percent of the PMUA’s solid waste tonnage, it is clear the Shared Service Fee is a PMUA overhead fee.

Given the Council’s reluctance to dissolve the PMUA, the only possible way reform the PMUA is for the Mayor to appoint and the Council to confirm at least three reform-minded PMUA Commissioners who would have the majority votes to push the PMUA to a market-based approach to providing trash and sewer services. A few of us with that mindset volunteered to serve, but were voted down by the Green-majority Council. The Mayor's subsequent appointees, who were approved, have been a big disappointment because they continue to rubber stamp the PMUA's egregious and wasteful practices.
The big question is whether Mayor Mapp is willing to remake the PMUA Board with reform-minded commissioners now that he has and looks to be maintaining his voting majority on Council?

Tom Kaercher


In every organization there is room for improvement, PMUA being no exception. I don’t know if it’s because people just don’t know how to listen or they chose to hear only what they want to hear. The PMUA has been picking up recyclables from Fanwood for approximately 3 months. In the last 3 months have the rates to Plainfielder’s gone up? Did everyone hear them say the rates have been stable for the last 8 years and on track to stay stable in the foreseeable future. Evidently not. What I don’t understand is how you think Plainfield ratepayers are subsidizing Fanwood. It just doesn’t make sense.

I bet Mr Crownover opt out of PMUA sometime ago but won’t be content unless he see that the authority is dissolved and Plainfield unemployment rate increases. If Mr Corownover has an apple to apple comparisons for rates of other communities he should email that information to the sitting commissioners.

For councilor Storch to say PMUA rates are one of the reasons developers shy away from Plainfield is absurd. Someone should ask the councilor if the developer on the South Ave project is using the PMUA or did they opt to use a private hauler from the onset of the plan? I was at the planning board meeting when they presented their plan and the question was asked if they would be using the PMUA for the garbage collection, they wanted to know what was the PMUA and followed by, we will be using a private hauler. If the councilor was interested in getting the PMUA rates lower, he should advocate for these developers to use the services of the PMUA.

Of course I wish I didn’t have any bills or expenses but, for me, I honestly don’t feel the $1100 I pay a year for my garbage, sewer and share-services to keep Plainfield clean is excessive in comparison of the service. What I do find excessive is the amount I pay in property taxes and the fact that my property taxes have increased YOY for the last 17 years. Getting my taxes lowered or even stable is a cause I’m more than willing to stand up and fight for. Mr Crownover, Mr Goldstein, and the city council should work a little more diligently on lowering or at the very least stabilizing our property taxes. That would really be a win for all residents of Plainfield.

Diane R.












1 comment:

  1. Diane, while I agree with your cry to have property taxes lowered, do you realize that the $1,100 a year you pay for PMUA in Plainfield costs people in Westfield about $250 a year? I am not sure about the Westfield amount, so someone keep me honest. What I do know is that it is a fraction of what we pay.

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