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Ridgewood Water Litigation ;the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Mayor Hache fills us in on all the details and where we stand . Since 2010, the governing bodies of the three communities outside of Ridgewood served by Ridgewood Water (Gen Rock, Midland Park and Wyckoff) have been engaged in a law suit, which challenged the allocation of expenses by the Village for the water company’s budget. The 3 towns felt that a 21 percent increase in rates in 2010 was excessive. The actual rate per 1,000 gallons is not excessive and, in fact, is in the lower middle of rates offered by other neighboring water utilities and still much cheaper than Suez. The challenge was started by the governing body of Wyckoff, whose auditor is a member of the former auditing firm of the Village when similar allocation methods procedures were used by the Village for the Water Utility budget. The claim argued that the methodology used by the Village in allocating percentages of Village expenses to the Water Utility was unfair (since it was not actual expenses) to the 3 towns and it caused the rates for water usage to be unreasonably excessive to the rate payers of the 3 towns and those rate payers were subsidizing the property taxes of Village residents.

The methodology used by the Village had been accepted by the Local Finance Board of the State in 2004, and the Village continued using that method throughout the years. This litigation which was started in 2010 (and amended in each of 2011 & 2012), finally reached trial in 2017. The trial court decided that the ordinances which approved rate increases in 2010, 2011 and 2012, did not have an adequate factual basis in the record that would warrant the rate increases that were adopted by the Village. As a result, the Court required the Village to hire an expert to calculate what the appropriate rate increases for the years in question should have been.
The Village (while still disagreeing with the Court’s decision that the record lacked an adequate factual basis), complied with the preparation of the rate study by hiring the most qualified expert in the field of water rate studies, Howard Woods. Mr. Woods completed his rate study and has recognized that the Village did not adopt excessive rates during those years challenged by the 3 towns.

The three communities decided to appeal the Court’s decision, and that appeal is pending; the Village cross-appealed on those issues raised by Plaintiffs. Their requests to stay the rate study pending the outcome of the appeal has been denied (at least for now) by the trial Judge. The rate study was presented to the Village Council in early 2018. The Village Council adopted an ordinance to adopt rates established by the Woods study, with the purpose of establishing rates for the years of 2010 through 2017.

4 thoughts on “Ridgewood Water Litigation ;the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. It was my understanding that the biggest complaint is that the water company was using the facilities maintenance fees that each individual water customer is charged for for other things other than water distribution. These fees were used for police and fire salaries and also some of it went to pay the managers salary why should the residence of these other towns foot the bill for Ridgewood expenditures?

  2. One of the biggest concerns is the facilities maintenance fee that all Ridgewood water users are charged. These fees according to a forensic accountant were being used to pay police fire and even part of The Managers salary why should the surrounding towns have to pay for the day to day operations of the village of Ridgewood police and fire departments.

  3. Let’s sell the well fields in this whining complaining towns and make some money, I’ll bet s developer could put 300+ units of affordable housing on cedar hill age in wyckoff. The well area sin wortendyke Godwin ave midland park could probably support at least 100 low income units. Where else in Glen Rock , midland park and wyckoff does the Ridgewood water company have real estate ? The water already sucks so close the wells, buy water from suez, and use the many millions from the sale of the land to lower taxes for Ridgewood residents.
    I’m sure all the liberals in these towns will be thrilled when their tax bills go up to pay for new schools and ESL programs for the new residents that will overcrowd their school
    Remember that the next time you come up with a baseless lawsuit.
    As a Ridgewood resident I’m not happy about having to obey lawn watering regulations while these other towns do not have to.

  4. Lets see if we can litigate the shit out of this. Good for billable hours.

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