LINWOOD — City Council passed a resolution at the Dec. 13 meeting establishing an interlocal agreement with Egg Harbor Township to maintain the city's sewers.
Deputy Mayor Darren Matik said Linwood would not renew the sewer authority shared service it has with Northfield, which expires at the end of 2017.
He said it was a financial decision on Linwood’s part that will save residents $47,500 the first year on day-to-day sewer maintenance.
The agreement with the Egg Harbor Township Municipal Utilities Authority is for one year. Matik said that if it works out favorably, city officials anticipate signing a multiyear agreement for 2019 and beyond.
He said that once Northfield started to explore options such as the possible sale of its system to Aqua America, Linwood City Council began to look at options as well. Northfield ultimately chose not to sell its system, but even discussing it prompted Linwood to take a look at what would be best for the city in the long run, Matik said.
Linwood will pay Egg Harbor Township $140,000 under the agreement.
Had it remained in the interlocal sewer authority with Northfield, Linwood would have paid $187,500 for service in 2018.
“It was strictly a financial decision. If we can provide the residents with the same level of service and manage to save them $47,000, then that is a decision that we really need to consider,” said Matik.
The contract between Linwood and Northfield requires one party to give the other at least six months' notice if they wish to discontinue the agreement. Linwood had already given notice to Northfield that it was considering other options, so Northfield has no obligated to give additional notice.
Northfield City Councilman Frank Perri said he was disappointed that Linwood was opting out of the shared service.
“This is one of the oldest and most successful shared service agreements in Atlantic County. It has worked well for both communities since I believe the 1980s,” he said.
“When there was a problem in the system, we are right here and our guys took care of it," Perri continued. "I spoke with (Councilman) Todd Gordon and he said it was strictly a financial decision and I can appreciate that, but will it be a good decision in the long run? Nobody knows that answer.”
Perri said Linwood still owns its sewer system, and any major infrastructure cost will be on them.
Northfield has made moves that even with Linwood opting out will not leave Northfield taxpayers absorbing any additional costs, he said.
“We have been cross-training our guys so that they can move from one job to the other rather than strictly be committed to one crew. There have been retirements and we are not replacing the person, and public works will also take over the day-to-day work at Birch Grove Park,” Perri said.
Northfield Mayor Erland Chau said he was sorry to see Linwood leave the interlocal, but he understands that cutting costs is a tough reality of balancing the budget.