By Jennifer Ortiz
HOWELL — A public hearing has been scheduled on an ordinance that will, if adopted, lower sewer rates in the municipality.
The ordinance was introduced on Jan. 25 and will be the subject of a public hearing and possible vote for adoption by the Township Council at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22.
Chief Financial Officer Louis Palazzo proposed a $19 reduction per quarter during 2016 for residential and commercial users of Howell’s sewer utility.
Municipal officials discussed the possibility of a reduction of $22 per quarter, before settling on a plan for a reduction of $20 per quarter.
“We are also planning to put an additional $400,000 from our utility surplus into our utility capital improvement fund to help further defray any capital costs that may go toward any major projects we are pursuing …” Palazzo said. “We are trying to regulate the cost the ratepayer is paying while leaving a decent amount of fund balance (savings) in the utility so that when some of these projects come to fruition … there will be to a minimal effect on the ratepayer.”
Palazzo said the sewer utility ended 2015 with a surplus of slightly more than $2 million.
“The sewer utility has been expanding. We have had a decent number of connections coming into the utility; some developers are paying all of their connection fees up front … ” Palazzo said, adding that certain expenses that were covered by ratepayers in the past are now coming back to the utility.
“For residential users, the original rate as it stands is an annual sewer charge of $736. We will be proposing a revised rate of $656 per year,” he said. “The minimum sewer rental charge will go from $368 to $328. For public buildings and schools, and commercial uses, the minimum sewer rental charge is $780 and that will be revised to $700 per year. And in the event that water consumption exceeds 75,000 gallons per year, the minimum charge will go from the previous amount of $10.40 to $9.33 per 1,000 gallons of water consumed in excess.”