Sewer rate are going down for Parsippany residents and businesses. At its Tuesday night regular meeting at Town Hall, the Township Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a rate decrease for homeowners and businesses starting in the first quarter of 2013. Another resolution, mandating a one-time sewer rebate, was also passed by the body without dissent.
In addition, a related ordinance was introduced to ensure that the rebate will benefit apartment residents directly. That measure was approved by the council on first reading. It has a scheduled second reading, public hearing and final vote on Dec. 18.
Mayor James Barberio announced last week that this effort was being instituted to make good on his long-ago promise to bring down the rates paid into the sewer fund once the new sewer treatment plant was fully refurbished and functional. That facility opened its doors officially last June. According to the mayor, the plant is reducing the township's energy costs by about 60 percent.
The approval of the sewer rate resolution means the fixed rate for single-family homes and garden apartments would be decreased by almost $10 a quarter, a total of about $40 a year. Businesses would see a rate decrease of 90 cents per thousand gallons, making the new rate $5.14 per thousand gallons. This would begin in the first quarter of 2013.
Meanwhile, the sewer rebate, which will begin to be paid out to residents starting Dec. 15, would give homeowners, apartment landlords and commercial citizens a one-time sewer giveback amounting to $1.5 million, or just under $50 per unit for single-family homes and garden apartments and $1.14 per 1,000 gallons for businesses.
If the proposed ordinance wins passage, the garden apartment rebate would require landlords under law to pass the giveback directly to tenants in the form of one-time rent rebates.
Rents are set using the per-unit costs for sewer and water, among other factors.
As it stands, even though a portion of their rent goes into the sewer fund, apartment residents won't enjoy a rent decrease akin to the rate cut going to those who live in actual houses. Patch has asked Mayor Barberio to address the apparent inequity and awaits his response.
Business Administrator Jasmine Lim said these rates for homeowners, landlords and commercial entities could go even lower in the future if it appears prudent. She said the administration wanted to ensure that the sewer maintains a surplus in the neighborhood of $4.5 million to provide protection in the event of a crisis that could affect the treatment plant.
During the public portion of the meeting, citizen-activist Roy Messmer told the council that he believes $4.5 million is too high a figure for the surplus is recommended landlords should give the rebate to residents.
"I want to see $2.5 million," he said, adding that he doubted the administration's position that nearly $5 million in the surplus was necessary to maintain Parsippany's bond rating.