The group of water-sale supporters who recently posted copies of the Trenton Water Works petitions, including the names and addresses of all who signed the petition, ought to be commended for publicizing the names of Trenton’s heroes who bravely stood up to the misguided city leaders who are pushing the $80 million sale of suburban water infrastructure.
The pro-sale group’s motives are obviously rooted in a hope that harassment and intimidation may halt the workings of democracy, through getting petition signers to recant their belief that this terrible deal should be put to a public vote.
Instead, however, they have provided great publicity for some of Trenton’s most important residents, by creating an electronic honor roll of the names of caring and intelligent citizens who don’t want to see the city alter its last remaining revenue-generating asset beyond recognition.
That’s exactly what this deal promises to do, and here’s why:
Trenton Water Works revenue, as it stands today, has and will continue to provide multi-million dollar surpluses each and every year, which can be used to plug the city’s constant budget shortfalls and lessen the need for hefty tax increases.
The sale, however, will sink the utility into a sea of red ink, by slashing revenue by as much as 40 percent. A successful sale will make city ratepayers subject to massive rate hikes that will become necessary once the deal creates a utility that operates at a deficit, or at best, a break-even level.
The city’s math doesn’t add up, according to water experts, in that it relies on a heavily inflated figure of $4.5 million in savings from no longer maintaining suburban pipes and infrastructure.
The real savings are much lower than that, and when compounded with the fact that the utility faces massive capital expenditures in the coming years, the result will be the transformation of a cash-generating asset into a cash-starved utility that could very well be sold off in its entirety.
Once again, thank you to those brave Trentonians who affixed their signatures to the water works petition.
Those supporting the sale, even if it was based on a desire to halt democracy and badger petition signers into reversing their positions, deserve thanks as well for forever honoring the petitioners with an entire Web site memorializing their efforts.