CLARK – Mayor Sal Bonaccorso directed the township attorney to file a lawsuit against the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority and all of its member municipalities this week, alleging that Clark is being inaccurately and excessively billed for sewer fees.
U.S. Gypsum shut down a paper mill located on Raritan Road earlier this year, which substantially reduces the amount of sewerage flow sent to Rahway Valley for processing, the mayor said. However, the sewerage authority was unwilling to adjust Clark’s assessment to reflect that reduction.
“If I had not acted in this regard, the residents of Township of Clark would have been subject to potential over billing by the Rahway Valley Sewer in an amount in excess of $2,300,000.00 over the next five years,” Bonaccorso said about his decision to go forward with the lawsuit.
Township officials met with authority representatives in an effort to have future billing done in accord with actual sewerage flow rather than historical models, but Bonaccorso said that Raritan Valley insists on being paid for a “phantom flow” no longer generated by U.S. Gypsum.
“It is wrong not to have a mechanism to adjust assessments where a major user has ceased to operate,” Bonaccorso said. “In my judgment, it is against public policy to force taxpayers to pay for a service they are not receiving, and it is wrong to force them to subsidize the other members of the authority who may have to pay a little more because Clark should pay a little less.”
The mayor also criticized the structure of the sewerage authority.
“As Mayor, I have long felt that the Rahway Valley Sewer Authority was poorly managed by a group that was ill prepared for the job,” Bonaccorso said. “This group is, for the most part, unelected and therefore, not truly responsive to the voters.”
Bonaccorso pointed out that Clark is the third-largest customer of the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority, yet it has the same vote as any other member municipality. He blamed this inequality for the authority’s unwillingness to assist Clark.
The Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority is an autonomous agency that owns and operates a trunk sewer system and a wastewater treatment facility in Rahway. It serves more than 300,000 residents and 3,500 industrial and commercial customers in 14 communities in central New Jersey.
In addition to Clark, Springfield, Kenilworth, Roselle Park, Cranford, Westfield, Garwood, Rahway, Scotch Plains, Mountainside and Woodbridge are members of the sewerage authority. Winfield Park and portions of Fanwood and Linden are also connected into the system.
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