SEWER RATES STING; PARKING PERMITS A GO

maria-fernandesMayor Maria Fernandes at Tuesday night’s Borough Council meeting. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Sea Bright and Two Rivers Water Reclamation Authority officials met recently to discuss the reasons for a 23-percent increase to the town’s yearly sewer bill, but the Borough Council still isn’t satisfied and intends to look deeper into why they’ve gotten hit so hard.

“I think we should press the issue,” Councilman Read Murphy said.

Nobody on the council seemed anything less than peeved about the increase, which would push annual sewerage costs from $500,000 to nearly $600,000. The council resolved to have the borough’s auditor review the rate increase. Additionally, officials will investigate whether there are leaks and/or broken pipes in its sewer system.

Mayor Maria Fernandes seemed especially ticked by the spike, saying that since Sea Bright paid into past facility upgrades and litigation for the authority, something should be coming back to the borough, especially since the authority recently settled an $11.5 million lawsuit.

“Where’s our amount? Where’s our money?” she asked. “We should get something back.”

The rate increase also didn’t sit well with one local business owner, Steve Gardella, who fears the it will portend higher costs for him. He owns Sea Bright Laundromat, which is already a costly venture at about $2,200 a quarter, Gardella said.

“I’m getting hammered now. I’m only going to get hit harder,” he said.

“They just weren’t clear in their explanation, that’s why we’re looking into it,” Murphy said.

Other notes from the meeting:

  • The council passed an ordinance requiring parking permits for residents. The move, intended to give locals designated space and hopefully push visitors toward the municipal lots, will take effect as soon as the police department gets stickers and signs ready, which should be by the end of the month. There is no cost to residents, and the limit is two per household. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $100. The permits must be renewed annually and can be done so at the police station.
  • The council also passed an ordinance regulating the placement of charitable clothing bins. Though they aren’t a problem in town, Fernandes said, this move will give the borough control over what organizations may put the bins in town and where.