Lakewood – Mayor Menashe Miller told residents they no longer have to stand alone when going up against utility companies. The township has formed a committee to act specifically as liaison between utility ratepayers and the utility companies.
Mike McNeil, Bill Hobday, Tzvi Rosenberg, Shabsi Ganzweig and Greg Stafford Smith will work together to ensure residents get fair treatment from utility companies, Miller said.
Particularly New Jersey American Water, Hobday said.
Problems with the water and sewer utility came to light recently at a Township Committee meeting after a resident pleaded for help from the local governing body.
After struggling with New Jersey American Water, Shmuel Eisgrau, 39, of Park Terrace told the Township Committee that he was being charged more than $90 a month in error. He said company representatives told him that he was paying for sewer services even though he uses a septic system. But the company would not back down.
After Eisgrau’s troubles were publicized, the water company immediately responded, rectified the problem and issued him an apology letter, Eisgrau said.
Other township residents have come forward with similar woes, Hobday said.
At the Township Committee meeting June 30, Miller said the residents should have somewhere to go with such problems, other than fighting alone.
“With Mr. Eisgrau, the water company said ‘pay up or they will cut off the water,’ ” Hobday said. “I think that is wrong. Someone should be able to go before some kind of a rate-setting board to say, ‘they are charging me for something that I should not have to pay for.’ ”
Utility companies, in most cases, are monopolies, Hobday said.
“When you have a monopoly you better behave because no one can compete with your service,” Hobday said. “If we can prove they were time and time again cheating, then I would ask the state to impose huge fines in every case we find. This is where we can be effective.”