The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Outsourcing: The Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority Case

RSVA Service Area

As Plainfield's City Council ponders the Green/Robinson-Briggs' administration's proposal to outsource planning functions to the politically-juiced engineering firm Remington & Vernick, it might be useful to reflect on an outsourcing story developing right next door: The Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority.

[Note: I put this post up hours before discovering today's Ledger article on the RVSA, see here.]

The quasi-governmental authority serves 11 communities, including neighboring Scotch Plains, and is under a court order to upgrade its facilities -- to the tune of approximately $250M.

The Authority eats up a continually growing share of the budgets of its member communities, and is coming under increasing scrutiny over its costs, contracts and assertions it is a job-mill for the politically connected.

In mid-October, RVSA commissioners voted 6-5 to study privatizing (read: outsource) its operations. That study will, of course, involve hiring lawyers, engineers and financial consultants to report to the Authority the advisability of outsourcing its operations.

You can almost hear the money being sucked off the table.

And of course it wouldn't be New Jersey without allegations that it's all a con. In this case, New Jersey Today alleges that the GOP mayor of East Rutherford, hired as the assistant to the Authority's executive director, is in Sen. Ray Lesniak's back pocket.

The assertion is that Lesniak is getting the best of both worlds: contracts galore in East Rutherford, where Meadowlands development projects proliferate, and control of the RVSA patronage- and jobs-mill.

-- Dan Damon

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