Trenton residents who want to stop the sale of valuable Trenton Water Works infrastructure for a one-time cash infusion demand that city officials announce who exactly is paying for the current “push” poll being conducted by Promark Research of Houston, Texas – the City of Trenton or the New Jersey American Water Co.
Pollsters have contacted residents across the city for the poll, which appears to be designed to support the sale, and fault the petitioners who seek to block it for the looming tax increase instead of city officials like Mayor Douglas H. Palmer who have refused to address the city budget’s underlying structural deficit.
The poll mentions nothing about how current rates mean the suburban system Trenton is about to sell what would generate $25.2 million a year – 60 percent of the utility’s $42 million projected in total annual revenue – or how this deal seeks to replace that $25.2 million with a contract to sell water to New Jersey American Water worth only $9.6 million.
The sale will effectively eliminate the city’s current ability to take surplus cash from the utility to plug the budget and keep our taxes low. With only $4 million or so in savings from the deal, a disputed number cited by Business Administrator Dennis Gonzalez, the post-sale utility will be left with a deficit of as much as $7 million. That will have to be realized through rate hikes hitting the wallets of Trenton taxpayers.
Most fundamentally, the Promark poll makes no mention about how the Trenton Water Works is the city’s last remaining cash cow and selling it will do nothing to address the city’s underlying budget problems.
In fact, selling the suburban system will put city taxpayers in an even worse position in 2010, when the city will face a similar budget shortfall to this year’s $20 million without the use of extra water utility-generated cash to plug them.
City officials admit they have no plan to address such an event.
The residents who want to stop the sale cannot support a plan that would have the city trade an asset that generates millions in extra cash every year for a one-time infusion of just $80 million that will be exhausted in less than 16 months, when Mayor Palmer may very well have left office.