Residents in Ridgewood, Glen Rock, Wyckoff and Midland Park will be paying more money for their water following the Ridgewood Village Council's unanimous decision to hike rates an additional 2 percent — their second hike for 2012.
Residents will now pay $4.42 per 1,000 gallons, up nine cents over the current rate. Village Manager Ken Gabbert said the hikes should become effective in a few weeks, once billing catches up. Despite the hikes — now up 5 percent for the year and 31 percent since 2009 — and a pending lawsuit, village officials maintain that ratepayers are still getting a good deal.
Gabbert provided a document detailing the rates of water utilities in the surrounding area. The document shows Ridgewood rates being among the lowest in North Jersey.
What impact this will have on a lawsuit that charges Ridgewood illegally used revenue from neighboring towns in the Ridgewood Water umbrella to fund its own operating expenses, remains unclear as of Thursday.
Wyckoff Mayor Chris DePhillips called the latest increase "unjustifiable," but declined further comment.
Glen Rock Mayor John van Keuren said he backed DePhillips's sentiment.
"We think we understand the income and revenue situation and just can't see with all the over-allocations on expense that they can justify another rate increase," van Keuren said Thursday.
Wyckoff, Glen Rock, and Midland Park and are seeking $3.3 million from the village. The plaintiff's attorney, former Wyckoff Mayor Joseph Fiorenzo, has said Ridgewood funneled millions to stave off cuts they otherwise would have had to make.
Asked of the potential impact to the pending lawsuit, Gabbert said the decision is up to the plaintiffs.
"They could amend their lawsuit and also say we have no right to make this increase," Gabbert said. It's when the Ridgewood council — which functions as the utility's board of directors — signed off on a 5 percent rate hike in late 2010.
Ridgewood Attorney Matt Rogers has and Gabbert remains confident Ridgewood is in good legal standing.
"It's unfortunate the amount of money that's being wasted by the residents of Midland Park, Wyckoff and Glen Rock," he said. "Because we're on solid ground."
He estimated the village's legal fees thus far to total about $50,000.
Fiorenzo was unavailable for comment Thursday.
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