MUA sale affects both users and non-users

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Although only 1,700 households of the 9,625 listed for the Township of West Milford in the 2010 census are users of West Milford Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA) systems the anticipated sale of the MUA affects everyone.

The Township Council at their Aug. 16 meeting adopted an ordinance for approval of an agreement between the township and Suez Water New Jersey Inc. for the sale of the MUA assets.

The ordinance also authorizes the printing of a proposal to be on the Nov. 7 General Election voting ballot. All registered voters will have the opportunity of voting for or against the sale.

A copy of the full ordinance is available to any member of the general public at the West Milford Town Hall.

Mayor Bettina Bieri and council members said they are anxious for information about the dissolution and sale of the MUA to be given in full to the public but, for now, all of their discussions are being held in executive sessions because a sale contract is not yet signed. She said that a lot of required statuary steps are being taken, More information will be available at a later date.

“Nothing is secret,” said the mayor. “When the time comes it will be important for everyone to understand and details will be given.”

Attorney Fred Semrau said if everything proceeds in order the MUA will be dissolved. At the present time the MUA is still an autonomous body and a separate agency from the township, he said, and specific state provisions must be met.

Councilman Luciano (Lou) Signorino said to make things happen the support of the entire community is needed. He urged people tlak about the subject which, he said, "is a big deal for West Milford.”

Another ordinance regarding the MUA dissolution was introduced on Aug. 16 by the council. It will not be considered for adoption until its Dec. 6 meetng. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the municipal building. A public hearing will take place before the council votes on the ordinance and all interested parties will have an opportunity to be heard.

The ordinance introduced on Aug. 16 states that after a thorough analysis the mayor and council determined it is in the best interests of the residents of the township and the users of the system to dissolve the authority, sell its assets and extinguish its the financial obligations.

It empowers the local governing body to dissolve the authority in accord with state law. The ordinance says the local governing body determined that dissolution of the MUA will be in the public interest, will benefit the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the township and will achieve a more efficient means of providing and financing facilities in the township for the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage.

Upon the effective date of the dissolution all real and personal property, facilities and contracts of the authority will be transferred to the township. The authority's present officers and staff are authorized to execute any documents or instruments necessary to transfer legal title to all real property, facilities and contracts to the township or an escrow account if so directed by the township for the purposes of the sale of the assets to a private entity as of the effective date of dissolution.

Bald Eagle Village barnsA property manager from Bald Eagle addressed the township council at the Aug. 16 meeting. She said there is concern about the future of 4 decorative MUA barns across from the club house when the MUA is sold. She asked if the buildings – seen as an integral and a part of the community – would remain.

Mayor Bieri asked her to write a letter to the township on Bald Eagle Village stationary and the village representative will be put in touch with the appropriate party to address the questions. The speaker said losing the barns would ruin the atmosphere.

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