Eric Watson's job change made the front page of today's Courier News after breaking on the blogs yesterday.
For those who missed it, the longtime former executive director of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority is back in his original role as director of the city's Department of Public Works and Urban Development at a salary of $110,000.
Watson received a controversial payout for his PMUA service in 2012, sparking outcry from residents already upset by a citizen's investigation that uncovered excessive spending by top PMUA executives. Also in 2012, a city study recommended dissolution of the PMUA, a course endorsed by then-Council President Adrian Mapp. Not the least of the puzzlement over Watson's hiring was that Mapp, now mayor, named him acting DPW&UD director.
In his news article, Sergio Bichao reminds us that the state Division of Local Government Services within the Department of Community Affairs had launched its own probe of the PMUA. But as he notes, no outcome has been announced.
On Aug. 11, the current PMUA executive director, Dan Williamson, came before the City Council to report on the authority at the behest of Council President Bridget Rivers.. He gave a brief overview, but urged the council to have a joint meeting with the authority.
The biggest news out of the PMUA this year has been the signing of service contracts with various outside entities, something promised at the outset in 1995 to bring in revenue. The authority now receives bulky waste and vegetative waste at the Rock Avenue transfer station from neighboring towns and school boards, which must then be delivered to another destination for final disposal. PMUA Commissioner Malcolm Dunn credited Williamson with finally launching the long-awaited outside revenue program. The trick in making the program profitable will be to make sure the final disposal costs do not outweigh the revenue from outside use of the transfer station.