Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

RED BANK: COUNCIL SWALLOWS “HARD TRUTH” ON WATER RATES

 

By BRIAN DONOHUE

Members of the Red Bank Borough Council defended a plan to raise water and sewer rates Thursday, calling it a painful “hard truth” but a better option than selling off the water utility to a private for-profit company.

2024 Water rate studyA chart from the Engenuity Infrastructure water rate study.(Click to enlarge.)

The council voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance that would increase rates by 9.5 percent beginning in August. Four more yearly increases would result in a total increase of about 46 percent by 2029. 

The increases are based on a report by engineers that found the system threatening to go into the red amid rising costs and a lack of rate increases since 2015. The report also includes a ten-year capital plan for the system.

This is the work of being reformers,’’ said Deputy Mayor Kate Triggiano. “This is the work of reforming. When something wasn’t taken care of for a decade, you have to make the hard decisions.”

Triggiano and other council members pushed back against the notion of selling the borough’s water utility to a private for-profit operator, citing frequent rate increases and profiteering by the companies.

New Jersey American Water, which already provides Red Bank water for several months of the year, now serves 183 towns in New Jersey. Selling Red Bank’s utility is an idea that has come up occasionally over the years in a state with the highest rate of private water system ownership in the US.

Only a lone public speaker, former councilwoman Cindy Burnham suggested the borough should ask New Jersey American Water to assess the utility and see what they can offer. 

“Red Bank is not in the infrastructure water business and New Jersey American is, so if we get a catastrophic problem then Red Bank people have to pay for it, whereas if it was New Jersey American-owned it would be spread over all these different towns,” Burnham said. “Maybe we’re at the point where we need to get out of the water infrastructure business for our little town.”

Perhaps hearing echoes of past debates on the issue, several members of the council said they were against it – even before Burnham got up to speak.  

Calling the need for higher rates a “hard truth,” Councilperson David Cassidy said he thought privatization might make sense when it was debated years ago, but has since changed his mind. 

“A lot has changed in the last fifteen years and drinking water has been treated as a commodity, it’s not treated as a necessity,” he said. “Our interests are not for sale. Our interests are for the residents of Red Bank. And that’s going to unfortunately include the correction that wasn’t made a long time ago.”

Councilperson Nancy Facey-Blackwood said she had studied the issue and weighed the pros and cons of privatization and had also rejected the idea.

“It’s an asset to the community, it’s not a for-profit company such as New Jersey American Water and I would not be in favor of selling it,” she said.  “I’d rather work through what we have and have a plan to go forward.”

Councilperson Ben Forest said he was not against “sitting down with American Water and listening to what they had to say.” 

But he recounted watching other towns sell off their water utilities for an infusion of cash and the promise of “low ball rates” only to be hit with higher rates than Red Bank customers now pay. 

“They were able to have some nice little tax windfall for a couple of years, and then, boom. As soon as that five year period was over, their water rates went very high.”

The rate hike ordinance will be up for a public hearing and final vote at the next council meeting on July 11.

In other business, the council:

Do you value the news coverage provided by redbankgreen? Please become a financial supporter if you haven’t already. Click here to set your own level of monthly or annual contribution.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
SKETCHES OF RED BANK BY LOCAL ARTIST MICHAEL WHITE
Sketches of Red Bank scenes have been floating around on social media and we thought they deserved some spotlight. First appearing in our fe ...
POLE DOWN
Utility pole falls on English Plaza shop Forge after being struck by SUV shortly before noon. No injuries reported, though 86-year-old drive ...
YO, ADRIAN!
It’s a tough turn for our hero as Rocky Balboa is relegated to the curb for trash pickup on Locust Avenue. We’ll have to go back ...
“EL PALOMO” IS IN THE HOUSE
Jesus Rios, a mariachi singer who performs under the stage name “El Palomo” (The dove) pauses for a moment before entering a bac ...
CROC SPOTTED IN RIVER
Frighteningly hideous and green, a solitary Croc lurked ominously amid the flotsam and foam in the Navesink River alongside the Red Bank Fir ...
KISS ICON REFLECTS ON BROADWALK
A Swarovski crystal-bedazzled self-portrait painting of Paul Stanley, longtime singer and guitarist for the rock band Kiss peers out from a ...
CHISELIN’ AWAY
Marcelo Garcia Lopez works with hammer and chisel on a new feature for his flower garden on Shrewsbury Avenue: a hollow in a carved log in w ...
STORM CLEANUP CONTINUES
  Saturday’s storm sent a tree toppling on this house on Bank Street, damaging the roof. Workers Wednesday could be seen removing ...
SNAPPING IN THE BREEZE
RED BANK: Blustery winds had the flags in Riverside Gardens Park snapping Monday evening.
POWER LINE DOWN
Red Bank firefighters were on scene at Manor Drive dealing with a live power line Monday afternoon. There was no immediate report of fire. T ...
TAR BEACH SOLSTICE
Aldo Quiroz of Ocean Township came ready with his beach chair and found a shady spot to spend his lunch hour in a parking lot off Broad Stre ...
GOING GREY
Workers painting the stone facade of the PNC Bank at the corner of Broad and Harding Thursday morning. An upgrade? Maybe it’s just pri ...
COFFEE & WILDLIFE
RED BANK: The best wildlife show in town can be taken in from a waterfront bench outside the public library, and it's totally free.
FAWNING OVER HER BABY
A mother deer and her fawn were spotted between a row of garages on Hudson Avenue and some trees alongside the Broad Street parking lots. Re ...
EVENING ESCAPE
RED BANK: Sailors in Monmouth Boat Club's weekly racing series found tranquil conditions on the Navesink River Tuesday evening.
PEAK COLOR ON BROAD
RED BANK: A year after they were installed, downtown mini gardens have added to "transformational" improvements, says business owner.
RED BANK: FAIRIES MOVE IN ON WHITE STREET
Red Bank: Girl scouts turns tiny parking lot plot of dirt into a "magical girls sparkle garden."
TRAINING UNDER FIRE
RED BANK: Volunteer firefighters train to cut into pitched roofs under active fire conditions.
“SUPERMOM” WANTS YOUR VOTE
Business owner. Dyed in the wool, lifelong Red Banker. Mother of six. Yup, seems like Anita Pierce does it all. In other words, she’s ...
SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
RED BANK: Town prepares for Saturday's Pride in the Park celebration with another lawn art design by public works supervisor and Fire Chief ...