BRICK – The Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority (BTMUA), which sells water and provides sanitary sewage collection to the township, is proposing a 7.5 percent rate hike to take effect on May 1.
The increase would total $4.51 monthly to the average customer who currently pays $60.08 per month and uses 12,000 gallons per quarter, according to BTMUA Executive Director Chris A. Theodos.
He said that a rate study was performed earlier this year, and consulting auditors Fallon & Larsen and the chief financial officer John Clifford recommended a rate restructuring which would raise an additional $2.5 million annually.
“The rates have not increased in five years, but all of our fixed and uncontrollable costs have increased,” Theodos said in a March 20 phone interview.
With an annual budget of $35 million and 146 employees, the utility has seen cost increases in all areas, including repairs and maintenance, pension, chemicals, insurance, permits and licensing, upgrades to the distribution/collection system at the treatment plant, and more, he said.
“We are obligated to fund health benefit and pension liabilities to comply with new state directives of $1 million a year,” Theodos said. “Past authority rates did not consider these costs.”
Also, the Ocean County Utilities Authority just increased their costs for sewage treatment, he said. The OCUA has three sewage treatment plants: the northern facility is in Brick on Mantoloking Road, the central facility is located in Bayville, and the southern sewage treatment plant is in West Creek.
The BTMUA has made capital improvements, such as the recent purchase of three new standby emergency diesel generators, replacing some that were inefficient and outdated, Theodos said.
The BTMUA provides potable water to over 100,000 customers in Brick and Point Pleasant Beach, and sells bulk water services to Brick and Point Pleasant Beach, and some of the bulk water services to Point Pleasant Borough, Howell and Lakewood.
The water comes from a combination of the Brick Reservoir, the Metedeconk River and groundwater wells, Theodos explained.
The township’s water treatment plant has a capacity of 16 million gallons a day and treats the water in Brick as well as to the towns the BTMUA supplies with water, he said.
The BTMUA maintains 406 miles of service mains in its water distribution system, 338 miles in the sewage collection system, and 26 pumping stations.
It’s not just Brick residents who would be footing the bill for increased costs, Theodos said; the bulk water rate is increasing from $4.19 per 1,000 gallons to $4.50.
Various sewer service fees and services to other municipalities are also going up, he said, such as hydrant flow tests, sewer main tap fees, water curb box and sewer clean-out access fees, and more.
The BTMUA has reined in spending that resulted in a decrease in discretionary spending in 2017 by $330,863, or 6.3 percent, which are costs over which they have control, such as computer hardware/software, support contracts, repairs to the building, maintenance parts and equipment, tools and more, Theodos said.
Money has been saved on office supplies since the authority is making an effort to go paperless, he added.
“Our rates remain competitive with other authorities in New Jersey townships. We are standing with other authorities whose rates have gone up as well,” he said.
A public rate hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 26 at 6 p.m. in the main conference room of the BTMUA’s administration building, located at 1551 Hwy 88 West, Brick.
Afterwards, the board of five BTMUA commissioners would consider voting on a resolution to adopt the new rate structure, Theodos said.