Water, sewer rates to see potential increases

Moorestown Township is eyeing an increase to the township’s water and sewer rates. At last Monday’s meeting, Interim Township Manager Thomas Merchel brought forth his proposed adjustments for council’s consideration.

As it stands, the average residence using around 18,000 gallons of water a year would see a quarterly increase of $18.10 to their water bill and $9 to their sewer bill. 

The proposal comes on the heels of a steady decline to the township’s surplus. Merchel said the township’s capital improvements — namely the water treatment plant upgrades — have put a strain on their surplus. In 2015, the township’s surplus had around $7 million in funding. It is now around $3.6 million.

Merchel said his current projections have them using around $1.7 million in funding for the 2020-2021 budget, which would leave the township under $2.4 million at year’s end. 

“It’s going the wrong way and the only way we get that back is we can’t continually rely on that level; we have to start increasing the rates,” Merchel said.

Currently, the average 18,000 gallon user pays $57.90 per quarter for water and $124 per quarter for sewer. Under Merchel’s proposed rate increase, this same user would pay $76 per quarter for water and $133 per quarter for sewer.

If approved by council, these increases would go into effect on April 1. The township would make an additional $470,000 in 2020 and $678,000 in 2021 under these adjustments. 

Merchel said he compared Moorestown’s rates to the surrounding Burlington Township towns and found that Moorestown ranked relatively low comparatively speaking. The last time council raised water and sewer rates was in 2017, and prior to that, council raised rates in 2010.

Council has invested infrastructure and added extra treatments to its water facilities, all of which have come with costs and additional maintenance. These costs combined with having to buy more water from New Jersey American Water, capital costs and other infrastructure costs have all affected the township’s surplus.

Merchel said, while it was necessary at the time for them to take an aggressive approach to replacing water mains and other water related infrastructure, he’ll be recommending that the township take a break from capital improvements for the time being.

He plans to introduce an ordinance for the adjustments at the township’s next meeting. At that time, the ordinance will be up for first reading.

The next meeting of Moorestown Township Council will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.