Lower Township manager to recommend disbanding MUA

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LOWER TOWNSHIP – Lower Township manager Michael Voll will recommend that council move to disband the Lower Township Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA) Monday night, during a scheduled work session and regular meeting.

“Council unanimously asked me to investigate the MUA and its operations, and an independent report was commissioned and undertaken as a result,” Voll said Friday. “Based on the findings, I will ask council to commence the dissolution of the authority.”

The MUA approved a $172,500 settlement with five employees in April. They had alleged former Lower Township MUA executive director Matt Ecker intimidated them last fall during the course of an investigation by the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office. The prosecutor's office filed charges against Ecker in November. (See related story.)

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 5 at Township Hall, 2600 Bayshore Road. A resolution titled “Authorizing the Township of Lower to Make Application to the Local Finance Board pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:5A-20 for the Dissolution of the Lower Township Municipal Authority” is listed on Monday’s regular agenda.

Voll’s presentation and report on the MUA is listed for the work session, at the top of the published agenda.  

Public comment will be taken before the resolution is brought to a vote.  

“I am hopeful that council will unanimously support my recommendation here,” Voll said.

Voll said he began the investigation at the direction of council, which was responding to multiple requests by MUA employees and at least one MUA board member at council sessions last fall and earlier this year.

State statute permits Lower Township to make application to dissolve the MUA to the Local Finance Board, which is part of the state’s Department of Community Affairs. The same section of the law permits the township to assume responsibility and payment of any obligations created by the MUA. 

Voll said his focus is on potential savings to the township and its residents.  

According to documents on the MUA website, the MUA’s 2014 sewer budget is $6,124,217 and the water budget is $4,241,943.

The MUA budget year runs from Dec. 1, 2013 to Nov. 30, 2014. Salary and wages, fringe benefits and other expenses for the administrative components of the MUA are over three-quarters of a million dollars each year. On the operations side, the sewer budget shows $3.9 million in salaries, wages, fringe benefits and other expenses; the water budget reports nearly $1.5 million in the same categories.

Recent data indicates that the water system reaches about 7,000 residential customers and 600 commercial customers. The wastewater collection and treatment services reach about 80 percent of the township, or some 13,000 customers.


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