Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Mixed Outlook for PMUA
The board of commissioners will go into executive session and reconvene in open session to take possible action. As Dan Damon wrote, this involves a possible settlement for Eric Watson and David Ervin, both of whom stepped down from the authority earlier this year.
David Ervin was mentioned at Monday's council meeting in a different context. It seems he is the city's representative on the Plainfield Area Regional Sewerage Authority, which handles city sewage on its way to the Middlesex County Utilities Authority for treatment. Nearly half of the PMUA's sewer budget goes to PARSA payments. Now that Ervin has left PMUA, he is staying on at PARSA and apparently the city has to wait until he decides to vacate his seat in order to name a replacement. According to Plainfield Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson, the city has no say over Ervin's status until his term ends, as it is governed by state statute. His appointment cannot be rescinded and the city's only hope is to negotiate with Ervin to step down..
Councilman Adrian Mapp said Monday, "Our hands are tied."
So even though new Executive Director Duane Young has set a new tone of transparency and cooperation, these two ongoing issues - the settlements and Ervin's position on PARSA - still await resolution.
Meanwhile, there will be another meeting at 6 p.m. on Jan. 10 at PMUA headquarters, 127 Roosevelt Ave., for a rate hearing followed by the authority's regular meeting. The rate hearing will have two topics, one being "confirmation of Low Generator Solid Waste rate at $116.38" and the other being an increase in the senior discount from 10 percent to 15 percent. A call to the PMUA Tuesday to clarify what the term "Low Generator Solid Waste" means was not answered. The solid waste rates on the PMUA web site begin with $199.38 for a one-family household, so it would appear this is a new rate. Over the years, people who generate very small amounts of garbage have clamored for a reduced rate, so maybe this is a response to their situation.
All of the above reflects a mix of good news and not-so-good news in this transitional period for the PMUA. The City Council has attempted for many months to meet with PMUA executives and commissioners without success and recently named a task force to look into the PMUA's workings. Young's very positive September presentation to the council and the recent appointment of two new commissioners, coupled with rate stabilization announced this month, point to a new era for the PMUA, but until the outstanding issues of possible settlements for Watson and Ervin and Ervin's tenure on PARSA are resolved, the authority can't really turn the corner.