Star Ledger: Newark council looks to create utility authority
Booker has gone on record in the past noting that the city’s infrastructure is aged and crumbling. Having been a student and a resident here for many years, it’s easy to see how a modest snowstorm or rainfall can overwhelm the city’s sewer system.
The details on the financing are a bit troubling, with the city essentially admitting that there is no other way to fund improvements to the system without creating a utility authority which can issue bonds.
Newark is considering creating a municipal utilities authority to take over the city’s ailing water and sewer utilities, making it easier for officials to begin $700 million in repairs to its long-neglected systems.
Highlights of the plan, referenced in an application filed with the Local Finance Board of the state’s Division of Local Government Services, mention that the city needs to make more than $50 million in short-term capital improvements alone.
The utility could issue bonds to address more than $700 million in needed improvements, “an amount equivalent to the value of the entire system,” according to the application to the local finance board. The proposal states, “all future capital needs would be met” by bonding, “to fulfill the requirements of upgrading and efficiently operating the system at an adequate cost to the city’s taxpayers.”
With Newark’s own bonding capacity nearly tapped, city officials said they have no other funding source to otherwise commission the work.
“It won’t drag the city down, and be caught up in the competitive demands on our bonding capacity,” said Booker, who also sits on the watershed’s board of trustees. “Now, you (can) create a way to capitalize that system, and keep it so much more flush with cash.”