By: Jeff Epstein
Editor of Citizens’ Media TV
MOUNT HOLLY, NJ — On Tuesday in Atlantic City, NJ, the town Council passed an ordinance that keeps its water system in public hands (the article features Food & Water Watch NJ’s Lena Smith). Although Governor Chris Christie has made it possible for all water systems in the state of New Jersey to be sold to for-profit corporations, any efforts to sell the water system in Atlantic City must now go to a public vote. The one town Atlantic City council member who is also an employee of the Municipal Water Authority (MUA) abstained, but all other eight members voted in favor of the ordinance.
Coincidentally, tonight at 6PM is the rate hearing for the Mount Holly, NJ MUA (which CMTV will be covering live starting at around 4:30). Thousands of residents are upset at the 40% rate increase that has been forced upon them in the past three years, including a new mandatory $2.25 postage and handling fee. Some requests for answers justifying these increases, by at least three municipalities served by the MHMUA, have been ignored for more than a year.
All MHMUA commissioners are appointed by the Mount Holly Township Council, and at least three of the six townships the MUA serves are now demanding representation on the Authority. The MUA’s newest commissioner, Gina LaPlaca, is indeed a resident of Lumberton, one of the towns served by the MUA. But LaPlaca was appointed without input from the Lumberton Township Council, and has stated that she would communicate with the Lumberton Town Council only if advised to do so by the MHMUA. She has also spoken in direct opposition to Lumberton Mayor, Sean Earlen. In addition to asking for representation, Earlen is demanding the same discount for Lumberton residents that Mount Holly residents currently enjoy. LaPlaca is also in a relationship with a former commissioner, Jason Carty.