Murphy, Johnson, & Lopez Bill to Reduce the Diversion of Utility Funds Clears Assembly Committee
(TRENTON) – Understanding the importance of water infrastructure, Assembly members Carol Murphy (D-Burlington), Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), and Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex) sponsored legislation to reduce the amount of funds municipalities and counties can steer away from intended stormwater, water and sewer purposes.
The bill (A-5015) would reduce the amount of funds that counties and municipalities may divert from stormwater, water, and sewer utilities to bolster county and municipal budgets for these purposes It would also require that counties and municipalities notify the Division of Local Government Services and the Department of Affairs whenever stormwater, water, or sewer utility funds are diverted elsewhere. Publicly-owned water utilities would lower the amount they are allowed to divert from 5 percent to 3 percent.
Assembly members Murphy, Johnson, and Lopez issued the following joint statement after committee approval of the legislation:
“With New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure, we have to be careful when deciding to divert the funding that will aid in repairs and improvements. Far too often, a neglected water infrastructure results in large costs building up over time. Infrastructure that is ignored for years, and sometimes decades, becomes very expensive when there is a sudden and immediate need for improvement. Often times it is taxpayers and ratepayers who are forced to foot the bill.
“Emergency repair is a vital aspect of water infrastructure. When funds are diverted from this important aspect of our municipalities and counties, it may lead to the constant use of old equipment that is more likely to fail at the most inopportune moments.
“This bill creates a higher level of transparency and accountability for the municipalities. We have an obligation to protect customers of public utilities from paying higher rates because of the lack of consistent infrastructure investment.”