To the Editor:
On Monday, Aug. 6, the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority unanimously voted to approve a contract that would turn over the daily operation of the city’s water and sewer services to United Water for the next 40 years. As a result of this contract, residents of Bayonne will see an immediate rate increase of 8.5 percent and after four years, an increase of four percent compounded every year. As part of the deal, United Water is allowed to increase rates to recoup any extra costs they incur during the length of the contract. In order to stabilize rates, United Water will give the BMUA approximately $2.5 million per year for a rate stabilization fund.
Mayor Smith and the BMUA are trying to pass this off as a great deal for the City of Bayonne and its residents, but in reality it is nothing more than a smoke-and-mirror act by Mayor Smith and the BMUA to eliminate the debt of the BMUA and the BLRA on the backs of the taxpayers. The four percent compounded increase amounts to an approximate increase of over 300 percent by the end of the contract. Someone paying $100 today will be paying approximately $445 by the end of this contract. Many residents, especially those on fixed incomes, cannot afford to incur this added cost. We must also keep in mind that the intent behind the creation of the BMUA was not to supply water and sewer services to the residents of Bayonne. Instead its purpose was to bond in order to plug a budget deficit.
During the course of its existence, the BMUA has used its funds and ability to bond numerous times to plug budget deficits. If we have learned anything from the history of the BMUA, it is that this authority has and will continue to funnel money to the city to plug budget gaps. According to BMUA director Steve Gallo, the BMUA has the ability to transfer money it receives from this deal to the City of Bayonne in order to fill any deficits in its operating budget. This would leave the fund that was supposed to stabilize our rates empty and once again, the residents of Bayonne would have to front the bill.
Mayor Mark Smith and his team ran under the slogan of stabilizing our taxes. Since elected, we have seen our taxes increase year after year, and now we are going to see our water bills increase exponentially. If you ask me, this is not stability – this is Mayor Smith telling the residents of Bayonne that they must pay for the results of an inefficient and mismanaged government.