A controversial city plan to sell outlying Trenton Water Works infrastructure to the New Jersey American Water company could be completed as early as the end of next month, according to sources at the water utility, who said the sticking point in the deal’s success was a reduction in the original $100 million pricetag.
Another feature of a successful deal could be an agreement to eliminate a 40 percent rate increase that was passed earlier this year by Trenton City Council, as a way of appeasing angry officials from the outlying townships, who have opposed the sale.
City Council members would have to sign off on the new sale agreement, due to what is feared to be a significant reduction in the amount of money the City of Trenton would have made off the deal.
Water utility employees have said they have already been informed that the deal appears to be complete, for the reduced price, and that they should be prepared to stop doing work on utility infrastructure in Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell, and Lawrence as early as April, presumably when the transfer of ownership would be complete.
If the deal goes through with a new reduced price – possibly in the $50 to $60 million range – Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and his administration will have succeeded in selling off another valuable city asset at a firesale price to temporarily stop a recurring budget imbalance.
They previously sold off the city’s stake in the Trigen energy complex off of Broad Street for many millions less than what some outside entities said was the value of Trenton’s stake.
Again, the sale amounted to selling off a long-term asset for a one-time infusion of cash.