Sussex mayor outlines budget challenges

Sussx Borough. Sussex Borough expects to see a 10 percent increase in SCMUA sewer rates in 2023, in addition to an 8.7 percent COLA increase.

| 24 Oct 2022 | 01:23

As the year ends, the change in he calendar brings about budget season and Sussex Borough Mayor Edward Meyer outlined a list of challenges the borough will face in 2023, including high inflation and a 10 percent increase in fees from the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority.

Council President Robert Holowach said the increase in the SCMUA fee is going to amount to a 3 percent rate increase if the borough does nothing else. The council had recently passed an ordinance that raised water and sewer rates 3 percent for one year.

“You can’t even operate with just raising 3 percent,” Holowach said. “Just saying now that’s going to be a discussion for next year. We’re going to have to deal with that. We just did a 3 percent increase, but we didn’t plan on that. So, whatever we planned covering with that 3 percent no longer gets covered.”

At some point, the new ShopRite is expected to open, and its water and sewer usage could increase gallonage to offset some of the increase.

“The new project isn’t even equal to what this increase is and that’s just one line, not counting the debt increases, or anything else,” Meyer said.

Holowach questioned whether all the municipalities that send sewage to SCMUA are seeing similar increases.

“I think we need an explanation for this,” he said. “I think we need to get our legislative people involved. (State) Sen. (Steve) Oroho and (Assemblyman) Parker (Space) and all those guys to find out what’s going on. Why are we being increased that much? Is it unilateral across every account? Because if it’s not, that seems to be discriminatory and that needs to be looked at.

That’s not the only budget issue the council will face for 2023.

Meyer said the cost-of-living increase from Social Security will be 8.7 percent and there expects to be a 24 percent increase in the borough’s cost for health benefits, which he said will amount to about $22,000. The borough’s wages are currently at about $500,000, but Meyer said he’s not sure if that’s fair to employees with an 8.7 percent COLA increase.

There is also about $85,000 worth of repairs to the Clove Lake Dam and about $22,000 in repairs to the storm water plant.

The DPW also needs a roof repair and will need vehicles. The fire department is looking for money for a new vehicle.