For Immediate Release:
February 24, 2012
Freeholders oppose rate increase request
New Jersey-American Water Co. is seeking a 20 percent bump
FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted a resolution Feb. 23 opposing a decision by New Jersey-American Water Company to seek a 20 percent rate increase.
“Elected county and municipal officials have demonstrated a sensitivity to taxpayers by cutting spending against the tide of rising expenses while faced with a 2 percent cap,” Freeholder Director John P. Curley said. “New Jersey-American Water Co. should share in that responsibility and help reduce the unprecedented financial burdens on our residents.”
The Voorhees-based company serves 2.5 million people in 17 counties, including Monmouth County. The increase is being sought to help pay for $300 million the company has invested in infrastructure. American Water, the parent company with operations in 35 states and Canada, reported net income of $33.9 million in the third quarter of 2011 – about 7 percent more than in the same period in 2010.
“Local governments in New Jersey are doing their part to contain costs and find new and innovative ways, such as sharing services, to ease the burden on residents,” Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “New Jersey-American Water Co. needs to tighten its belt like everyone else.”
New Jersey-American Water Co. received rate increases in 2008 and 2010. Since 2004 it has received a compounded rate increase of 51 percent. If approved by the BPU, the new water rates will increase the company’s net income by about $95 million. For the average customer’s monthly water bill, it will increase by $7.10, or 23 cents per day.
“Water is a precious commodity and something we all need,” Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said. “But for many people the vast array of government services are also a necessity. If government can cut costs and continue to provide excellent services, it seems the water company should be able to do the same.”
The resolution was adopted on the same night the Board of Chosen Freeholders introduced its 2012 budget, which reduces county spending by more than $4 million from 2011 and keeps the amount to be raised by taxation flat for the second year in a row.
“New Jersey-American Water Co. should look inward for cost savings,” Freeholder Gary J. Rich said. “I would urge the BPU to deny this request and force the company to absorb those costs.”
“Many people in Monmouth County and elsewhere in New Jersey are struggling just to survive,” Freeholder Serena DiMaso said. “Now is not the time to ask your customers to pay more for water.”
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