The needler in the haystack.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Two PMUA stories you will NOT hear tonight

Once again the Plainfield City Council will have opportunities (two) to discuss the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) at tonight's business meeting.

Council President Bridget Rivers has invited PMUA Executive Director Dan Williamson to speak to the Council. This will probably be an update on various activities which have been reported on in the past.

Mayor Mapp also has two nominations to the PMUA on the agenda: adding Wilbert Gill and reseating Harold Mitchell as an alternate.

Council has stymied Mapp's nominations for months -- last week causing Councilor Storch to ask aloud what had happened to a supposed agreement.

Led by Councilor Taylor, a majority has taken a double tack on turning down nominations: first, that the nominees 'have no experience' and second, that the Council is 'waiting for a report on what is going on over there'.

Well, tonight's nominations address the first objection: Harold Mitchell is a current holdover and has been a PMUA commissioner for years; Wilbert Gill is a former commissioner, also with years of service. So much for the 'no experience' gambit.

There are, however, two stories about the PMUA you are likely NOT to hear tonight.

The first, as reported by Councilor Storch on his blog (see here) is that NJ's Office of the Comptroller has concluded its investigation of the PMUA and is preparing to issue its report. Storch got the information from a state staffer he spoke with after a workshop on public authorities at the recent League of Municipalities Conference.

The second story is that former PMUA Chief Financial Officer Jim Perry has filed suit against the agency. Perry, who is white, alleges that he was discriminated against in comparison to the generous terms given former executives at the instigation of Commissioners Malcolm Dunn, Cecil Sanders and then-Commissioner Alex Toliver.

Sooner or later, one way or the other, the public will get a window into the real goings-on at the PMUA.

Will the Council then find itself embarrassed -- or worse?

City Council meets tonight at 8:00 PM in the Council Chambers/Courthouse, Watchung Avenue at East 4th Street. The public will be able to speak at two points in the meeting.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tom Kaercher said...

Here are some other PMUA facts that neither the PMUA nor the Jerry Green-controlled Council will be discussing tonight.

- Grand Sanitation charges its Plainfield customers $30.98/month for the same trash service the PMUA charges its customers $61.66/month for even after their new rate reduction.

- In 2012, when the Council-sponsored PMUA Task Force gathered comparative cost data for trash and sewer services from surrounding communities, the City of Union which had 6,500 more residents and disposed 14 tons more waste than the PMUA did, paid $8.6 millions dollars for trash and sewer services, while the PMUA charged it’s customers $22.4 million dollars. So, the PMUA charged its customers $13.8 million dollars more to do less work than the City.

- The actual tonnage the PMUA collects from its Shared Services activities (collecting trash from City parks and City trash bins and illegal dumping is actually less than 1% of the tonnage they collect, even though they charge their customers $27/month (or 44% of the Solid Waste charge) for a Shared Service Fee.

- The PMUA charges its single family homeowner customers 274% more than the Township of Cranford charges its single family homeowners for sewer services (PMUA = $574.88/year; Cranford = $210/year)

Despite the facts, the odds are against any real changes being made at the PMUA, especially given the current Council's unwillingness to either dissolve the PMUA or to even approve Mayor Mapp's nominees for reform-minded PMUA Commissioners. The sad truth is too many people and companies both locally and as far away as Trenton are making too much money based on how corruptly the PMUA is being run today and they will not give their ill-gotten gains up easily or willingly.

Tom Kaercher