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Ridgewood Water Hikes Could Increase Another 5 Percent in 2012

Wyckoff still maintains Ridgewood is subsidizing other aspects of its operational budget with rate-payer money

To cover operational costs, Ridgewood Water may be hiking water rates as much as 5 percent, Village Manager Ken Gabbert said at Wednesday night's village council meeting. As expected, municipalities under Ridgewood Water's umbrella are expressing outrage at the possibility as they continue to .

According to the Gabbert, the revenue figures for June and July have been strong and depending on the August figures, rate hikes will "only"  increase "a maximum of 5 percent" in 2012.

Attorney Joseph Fiorenzo, representing the Township of Wyckoff in a pending legal case against Ridgewood, says the aggregate 26 percent hikes in the past two years were wrong and another round likely wouldn't change that fact.

"Given the 26 percent rate hikes already passed were completely without justification, it seems highly unlikely Ridgewood could justify another potential 5 percent hike," said Fiorenzo, who added that he has not been notified by Ridgewood of any potential hikes in 2012.

Gabbert said in an e-mail Friday that operating costs were increasing, water sales have been "flat to slightly up," while capital commitment is also increasing.

"A utility must cover expenses and have a surplus, otherwise the host community must continue to fund the deficit," he said.

Wyckoff has charged that Ridgewood had been illegally funneling money received from ratepayers in other to subsidize other divisions in its municipal budget.

The township took the lead in initiating the lawsuit in 2010, expressing outrage that the Ridgewood Village Council–which acts as the utility's board of directors–. Wyckoff, along with neighboring Midland Park and Glen Rock, is seeking a repeal of the rate hike. Ridgewood then subsequently , again drawing the ire of Wyckoff and another demand for repeal.

The legal fight is still pending and Fiorenzo said he could not comment on the litigation. Gabbert said there would be "no impact" on the pending lawsuit.

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