Monday, October 26, 2015

How My Council Opponent and I Differ

PMUA Rates
At last nights NAACP forum, John Campbell Jr stated that he has no problem with the PMUA rates.  But there is a problem:  many people, including seniors that Mr Campbell claims to sympathize with, can't afford the rates.  
I have held a consistent position on PMUA rates.  They must be lowered significantly.  Not just for homeowners but for businesses.  Our combined sewer and solid waste disposal rates are higher than almost anywhere.  That is a disincentive to businesses to locate in Plainfield. 
There are a number of ways that PMUA rates can be lowered:
  1. give residents the option of once a week pick-up
  2. arrange for the PMUA bill to be included in property taxes so the expense is tax deductible
  3. keep marketing PMUA services to other towns.  This option works best in combination with the two above.  Otherwise the PMUA rates are not competitive, unless rates offered for out of towners are lower than for our residents.
I have strongly advocated for replacement of PMUA commissioners with ones who understand they are responsible to the ratepayers, not politicians motivated by patronage appointments and million dollar retirement payments.  Now we have new people in place.  Lets not settle for the small rate reductions recently made.
Mr Campbell is a nice young man who aspires to a future in politics.  But he needs to do more research on the issues affecting his would be constituents.  We cannot afford City Council members who like the PMUA rates where they are today. 


Alan Goldstein said...

You left out the two primary ways rates can be lowered: eliminate the bureaucracy of PMUA or eliminate the bureaucracy's overstaffing. In fact, PMUA has reduced staffing by about 25% since Eric Watson left in 2011. This has translated, along with furloughs and a wage freeze, into holding rates steady despite the obscene payout of $1 million to Watson and David Ervin when they walked away from their contracts and quit. A third way is for the City to pay the actual cost of common services for public properties that is currently being charged to all ratepayers through the Shared System Service Fee, whether they opt in or out of residential service. There has been no transparency about this charge since it was imposed on customers back in 1998. If the City actually paid the bill there would be some accountability added to the process, and municipal government would be less likely to shirk its responsibility of oversight as it has since PMUA and the McWilliams administration secretly gutted the Inter Local Agreement and defrauded the public. A fourth way would have PMUA credit customers for the full amount, or any portion, of the illegal compensation it awarded commissioners with over the years. PMUA's fifth official action after its creation was to ignore the compensation limits in the Creation Ordinance and provide a regal benefits package, over and above the annual cash payment, in direct violation of the Municipal and Counties Utilities Act which empowered these authorities to be created in the first place. If you want real reform at PMUA, you will have to get into the mud and not be content with simplistic panaceas.

Anonymous said...


Your suggestions as how to reduce rates is appropriate .However, even if implemented they would not yield a significant reduction. The big ticket item is labor. If the PMUA were a private organization it would be bankrupt in short order. Since we are compelled to accept its existence, we must do the best we can with what we have. We must accept that as a Municipal Authority it is in large part a social service provider. That said, the question is how large should the social service component be? It is my belief that the total number of employees could be reduced in the order of 30%, or some 40 people. It is probable that this could be accomplished over a 5 to 7 year period through attrition and retirement. The second large potential saving is the consolidation of the several locations. An overview of the Rock Avenue site suggests that the entire staff could be accommodated in a trailer park, and the Cottage Place Sewer equipment as well. The former prolific use of outside consultants should be reviewed. My conservative estimate of the savings attributable to these modifications is $3,000,000 per year, or approximately $300 per household per year. Bill Kruse