As we move closer and closer to reopening in what is certainly a whole new world, I just want to once again thank everyone for doing their part to flatten the curve of COVID-19.
There was no playbook for this. With 74 of our 99 positive cases cleared from isolation in a Township of almost 14,500, we have done our part. Most sadly, we have lost six of our beloved residents aged 59-97 to the pandemic…and we will miss them terribly.
As we have been doing since closing the doors of the municipal building to the public March 16, our staff has continued to work diligently on township business. One of the first orders of business was getting the wastewater treatment situation with Hamilton Township figured out. That work includes repairing the considerable damage done to both the sewer utility and relations between the two towns by the previous administration in Hamilton.
The last thing we ever wanted to do was raise rates in a pandemic. But the reality is the sewer system shared by Hamilton and Robbinsville needs considerable work, and until a shared rate study is completed Mayor Jeff Martin and I—with the approval of our respective township councils—needed to bridge the gap by raising rates. We are equally committed to running the sewer utility in a responsible manner that accommodates the needs of both townships fairly. For Robbinsville, it would be just our second sewer rate hike since 1990 (2011). The increase to our households will be $85 per year beginning with the Oct. 1, 2020 billing.
Robbinsville and Hamilton, which has not raised its rates since 2008, still have two of the lowest sewer rates in all of Mercer County. In an April 2018 wastewater utility financial survey conducted by the Hamilton Township Water Pollution Control, the total annual cost of a residential family of four in neighboring municipalities in Mercer and Burlington Counties ranged between $600-900. Even with the increase, Robbinsville would come in at $425, with Hamilton at $390.
Perhaps Mayor Martin said it best.
“We have a plant that is very well run and could not survive any longer at its current rates without jeopardizing its operations. Hamilton has seen what happens when a township neglects a utility and I cannot permit that to happen here.”
Sometimes we have to make tough decisions. This was one of them. But the fact that our towns are working together to solve important issues bodes very well for all of our residents.