What does the law say?


PMUA must face the reality that they are in direct violation of NJSA 40:14B-23 with respect to the January 22, 2009 rate adjustment. Our issue was not whether PMUA provided a notice (copies of many MUA's notices are posted to our site). Our issue was/is that the notice did not meet NJSA 40:14B-23 statute for adequate notice of a proposed adjustment of the service charges. The parameters in which the PMUA must operate are minimal compared with any other waste management company or government agency, contrary to PMUA's assertion of "a plethora of laws and regulations." In fact, little regulation exists besides PMUA's very own board of commissioners. So when PMUA and its board of commissioners violates the few laws that govern them, they better expect that residents are going to call them on it.


PMUA's notice for rate adjustment:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (the "Authority") has scheduled a Public Hearing for THURSDAY, JANUARY 22, 2009 at 6:00 P.M. at the Authority's offices located at 127 Roosevelt Avenue, Plainfield, New Jersey. The Public Hearing is to discuss and take action with respect to adjustments to certain sanitary sewer and solid waste charges, rates, and fees.

This is what the law says:

NJSA 40:14B-23 "Said schedule shall thus be prescribed and from time to time revised by the municipal authority after public hearing thereon which shall be held by the municipal authority at least 20 days after notice of the proposed adjustment is mailed to the clerk of each municipality serviced by the authority and publication of notice of the proposed adjustment of the service charges and of the time and place of the public hearing in at least two newspapers of general circulation in the area serviced by the authority. The municipal authority shall provide evidence at the hearing showing that the proposed adjustment of the service charges is necessary and reasonable, and shall provide the opportunity for cross-examination of persons offering such evidence, and a transcript of the hearing shall be made and a copy thereof shall be available upon request to any interested party at a reasonable fee." [Emphasis added]


Questions Plainfield residents should be asking:

* Can the revised schedule take effect BEFORE the public hearing?

* How would a member of the public "cross-examine" persons if they were hearing the proposed rates for the first time at the public meeting?

* If over 200 people attended the last PMUA meeting, how many more would have attended if they heard rates were going to go up 20% and 14%?

* Is PMUA claiming that the statute would allow them to simply say during the public meeting , "we are going to adjust sewer and solid waste rates and fees."?

* Would other MUA's have every single rate, fee, or charge advertised in their public notice if it weren't required?

* Does this law apply to every Municipal Utilities Authority EXCEPT PMUA?


Shared Services:

Can PMUA legally bill residents for solid waste (garbage) that did not originate on their property?


40:14B-22.1. Solid waste service charges
Every municipal authority is hereby authorized to charge and collect rents, rates, fees or other charges (in this act sometimes referred to as "solid waste service charges") for the use or services of the solid waste system. Such solid waste service charges may be charged to and collected from any municipality or any person contracting for such use or services or from the owner or occupant, or both of them, of any real property from or on which originates or has originated any solid waste to be treated by the solid waste system of the authority, and the owner of any such real property shall be liable for and shall pay such solid waste service charges to the municipal authority at the time when and place where such solid waste service charges are due and payable. Such rents, rates, fees and charges, being in the nature of use or service charges, shall as nearly as the authority shall deem practicable and equitable be uniform throughout the county for the same type, class and amount of use or service of the solid waste system, except as permitted by section 1 of P.L. 1992, c.215 (C.40:14B-22.2), and may be based or computed on any factors determining the type, class and amount of use or service of the solid waste system, and may give weight to the characteristics of the solid waste and any other special matter
affecting the cost of treatment and disposal of the same.
P.L. 1977, c.384, s.15; amended 1992, c.215, s.3.


Think about it: If the $1.2 million payment from the City of Plainfield for municipal waste contribution isn't enough, PMUA needs to renegotiate that with the city. PMUA's assertion that residents be billed for this directly is no different than the city contracting with Ford for vehicles and then Ford sending individual residents the bill.