Things that make you hmmmm, in Highlands: Sewer Charges


So,  last night at the town hall meetings, one of the topics of discussion was “sewer connectivity” or the lack thereof and yet still having to pay for the service. (And don’t even get me started on how it was supposed to go up for only 2 quarters and that was how many years ago?)

When asked about this, Mayor Nolan answered, “Our [costs are]based on connection fees and not usage – there are no meters on ours.”

Then, councilman Francy spoke up and was called on the stage and stated, “the reality is we pay by flow & our flow since the storm hasn’t gone down at all, this is what the meters say,”

Yeah… What meters would that be? The ones we don’t have?

I decided to take a look at Highlands Ordinance O-13-01-2013 (The Sewer and Water Fee Ordinance)  which states:

Quarterly sewer charges herein imposed shall be based upon water consumption of the property served, as hereinafter set forth. The charges for each quarter shall be a minimum charge of $140.00 per quarter for up to 31,938 gallons of water usage. Over 31,938 gallons of water usage, additional charges shall be based on $.004424 per gallon for the excess. Sewer charges shall be based on water usage from the prior quarter. Effective 1/01/12

So a couple of things here, how are they determining which houses are over the 31k gallons if there are no meters? If our “flow” is the same and has not decreased since Sandy, why isn’t that a huge RED FLAG for anybody but me?

That absolutely positively makes no sense.

How can the flow be the same??

The only things that could possibly explain may be a) Bahrs & Wind & Sea are the biggest flow generators in Highlands and everyone is subsidizing them, b) there is a leak somewhere and we’re paying for flow we’re not actually generating.

The Mayor’s summation that it’s because all the residents are still living in Highlands, just not in their homes is silly. Anybody that has driving through Highlands after 7pm on a side street can attest to that.

Oh and by the way, there has been a break in the water line on the side walk on Waterwich Ave between the Flower Shop and the Coffee shop since Sandy, do you think that *maybe* a steady flowing water leak into the sewer system since Sandy has possibly contributed to the “flow remaining consistent”?? Maybe? – Just saying

Reconnection vs Connection Fees

I’m not seeing anything (in their ordinance) that says you can’t stop the service. There is no mention of a reconnection fee. There is mention of a “connection fee of $1500″ which is applicable only to “new residential units”.  And by their own definition “new residential units” are places that didn’t have sewer connections previously like new construction or conversions, like you converted a building to condos.

Plus, anyone else remember the town hall meeting they had at the Rec center last August? (August 13th, to be exact, & I took notes.) Didn’t Rick Oneil say that the reason the sewer charges didn’t go down was the contract we had with TOMSA only allotted us a certain amount of flow and we were always over and were keep paying overage charges. Also, I remember him mentioning that someone retired early and we had to subsidize that.

And the fact that no-one has the same story isn’t supposed to make people go “huh?” boggles the mind…

Show me the Meter..

Also, section 9-8.4 of the ordinance is  “Charge for Sewage Service Only.”  Which states;

All premises having no connection to the water supply system and being served by their own wells or other source of supply shall have the supply metered and shall pay only the sewage service minimum rate as determined by the meter.

What meter?? I didn’t think we had a meter (Insert dripping sarcasm here) and if there are in fact meters, then the town should be able to figure out exactly where the flow is coming from and why it hasn’t changed since Sandy.

25 comments

  1. Ok, here is the reality… The town pays by flow, but they charge us residents by connectivity. This is why they are dissolving what we have with ATL. Highland authority. This is a 2 year legal process. I paid 10 years of the lower rate so trust me, this is sometime thing they are getting right. We will have to see what happens once the legal contract is disolved and Highlands pays directly to Middletown. That is where we will see some (hopeful) change.

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    • That’s not how that ordinance reads. Perhaps the change will be good but says for residential & non residential 140 based on consumption or use which is exactly what I pay. Why are residents paying the same as business(non residential) that use way more water? HB correct we are subsidizing others by this ordinance. Maybe i’m not understanding this all correctly but that’s probably because town officials seem confused.

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  2. The whole sewer thing is totally screwed up. And if you think the rocket scientists down at Borough Hall will have it all under control after the AHHRSA is disolved, forget it. The sewer lines in town are totally rotten. Attempts by members of the AHHRSA, 3 of which members are from Highlands, to get the town to address much of this has fallen on deaf ears. Many of the lines from houses to the sewer mains are leaking water by the thousands of gallons per day. The town has done nothing to address this. Members of the AHHRSA were literally attacked when they tried to bring these issues up and have them addressed. So, what do you think will happen when the problem, which is underground and no one sees, is now the charge of those that didnt want to listen to what needed to be done.
    In short, thousands of gallons of water, that is not sewerage, is flowing into the sewers every day, has to be treated, and the town gets charged for it. Atlantic Highlands by comparisson made great strides to fix their sewer problems.

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  3. Oh and heres another interesting fact. Because both towns, Atlantic and Highlands didnt like constantly being told what needed to be done to their sewer systems, and didnt like that thorn in their side, the usually all “civilian” board was replaced with serving council people from both towns. This move was to consolidate power and to gag the sewer authority. Additionally, a law suit against TOMSA, the middletown authority that has been overcharging both towns was dropped due to pressure from the town councils of both towns. Even though there was clear evidence that the towns were being unfairly charged.

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  4. There’s a lot of things that make me go “Hmmmm” in Highlands…..like why are people still quoting from the “Arsenio Hall Show” that’s been off the air for like “20 years.”

    I’ll have to look that up in my “Funk and Wagnalls” and “Sock it to me!”

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  5. We are considered a commercial property.. we pay $1,540 per quarter for sewer for 11 small bungalows and a small house. What’s very interesting to me is, if 31,000 gallons of water are included per quarter per apartment, why are we also paying on 2 water meters?
    several hundred dollars per month??? Should I raise this question to the town? o

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  6. You could raise that question, but you wont get an answer that is going to make you happy. The infrastructure in too many large complexes in town were built wrong making billing by consumption almost impossible. And example are condos on the hill with one meter for like 50 units!

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  7. Maybe we should stop talking to them and just start making noise with Pallone & Christie admin, Asbury Park Press, NJ.com, Fraud task force, Today show etc. just try to get anybody to listen and shed serious light on our concerns. Same old story just not going to fly given the stakes after Sandy.I do believe there are good people doing all they can to help but after experiencing my first town hall not our elected officials. They are just not being honest and they have decided the way to get back is on the backs of the victims of the storm. Permit fees, conflicting stories regarding sewer fees, not fighting for money to fix our infrastructure or mitigate our town. A few people brought up Captain Cove’s that has been huge concern to residents for years and just I’l talk to Mercado BLAH BLAH BLAH. THe power of the pen or keyboard:)
    https://pallone.house.gov/contact-me/email-me
    cchristie@nj.gov
    APP letter to Editor yourviews@app.com
    APP news tips newstips@app.com
    NJ.com Star Ledger tmoran@starledger.com
    Sandy Fraud Task Force sandyfraud@co.monmouth.nj.us
    Today Show http://www.today.com/id/29041920/ns/today/t/email-today/#.UW812r_V0UU

    If we all are contact them about the same issues hopefully we can catch someones attention. Worth a try no?
    HB I know you have a good twitter following if we can pull together maybe we can use to our advantage. I’m a total novice at that stuff.

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    • COOL I already sent letters out myself. I swear I wish I was at council meeting with you to have your back. Still they can’t explain how they know if somebody goes over the 140 flow? Mr Francy thinks its unfair for people who are actually using the flow not the people who are not. So the victims need to subsidize the people with roofs over their heads and running water on top of the WindnSea and Bahrs. All I can say is THANK YOU for having this blog so we can all discuss our “real: concerns and issues and together I believe we can make a difference even if they think we can’t! REMOND, KANE, RYAN gotta GO!

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  8. So what happened at tonight’s meeting? God, I hate being so far away and out of touch with all these things that affect my freaking LIFE.

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  9. Well if anyone watched council meeting I have a good idea who Misha is. Not sure her address but against returning permit fees and thinks sewer charges okay…have feeling she lives in her house.

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  10. I attended the meeting. Good to know that the council and my neighbors got my back. Please remove the knife.

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    • Nasty people and HB good for you. Seabright can handle it but Redmond.Ryan,Kane, Misha(I suspect) & dude who insurance paid his fees can’t. We all need to let them know we are not happy! Misha get lost!!!! We don’t need people that don’t people like you telling us we are lying about things we have experienced!

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    • Thanks Carolyn…good to know who are the culprits. Sorry so annoyed by that Michele women basically calling us all liars!

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    • Oh RockemSockem
      So wrong! I actually thought the analysis above was GREAT!
      I see that there are truly intelligent people here.
      One thing I learned YEARS ago is being logical is not going to work.
      If you have press connections or can write a factual unemotional letter to expose the problems – go for it! One thing this town needs is Press Coverage!!!!
      I am not your enemy and should not be mine.
      Misha

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    • Are you sure Misha is a woman.. The 2 Misha’s I know are Jewish men. lol
      RockemSockem, Duncan, Carolyn, HighlandsBog – you people are
      amazing. i’ve learned so much from all of you. Thank you for all the info. We need people like you in local office!

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    • Ha very funny…I thought was nickname for a Michele that didn’t want to waive permits cause her taxes might rise. Even though the sooner we fix our homes the property tax base will go up. Such shortsightedness. She also attacked blog as rumor’s as she chooses to live her life in denial.

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  11. The problem is that people have needed to be making noise for several years running now. It seems that only when the crap hits the fan and things get really painful do people wake up and take notice. But now that this has happened, the thing to do is to not count on the people in office to listen and do what you want. The thing to do is to be the people who are in office and do it yourselves. If you people really are mad and care about this stuff, then get politically active and run candidates that will stand up for you and do the right thing. Its not that hard to do. Right now only a very very small handful of people have been running for office, and getting elected time and time again, and they like it that way. Time to change that. If you want to really change town hall, then be the people running the show!

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    • @duncan – you hit the nail on the head!
      It’s about building a community and working together, as well as fostering open dialogue without being (or feeling) attacked or threatened. This will allow for a deeper understanding, invites development of common values and will allow participants to express their own interests. Hopefully with open intellectual dialogue people will grow in understanding and may decide to act together with common goals.

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