“How Much Am I Going To Have To Pay For Water?”
and other Frequently Asked Questions about the proposed proposed water and sewer rates in Long Beach Township NJ
November 15, 2021 v. 2
In the October 2021 Long Beach Township (“LBT”) public meeting, Ordinance 21-30C was formally introduced, which proposed revised fees for LBT’s water and sewer services. After receiving feedback from the public in the November Township meeting, the mayor and commissioners revised the original proposal.
This FAQ endeavors to answer most questions about the new proposal. Use the Search function to maneuver quickly around this PDF. The full proposed ordinance is available for you to view on the Home page of LBT’s website: longbeachtownship.com
If you have further questions, please direct them to your individual taxpayer association.
- How much am I going to have to pay for water?
- How much am I going to have to pay for sewer?
- What happens if I use more that 15,000 gallons of water in a quarter?
- If I use less than 15,000 gallons of water in one quarter, can the “credit” be rolled over to the next quarter?
- Why is extra water usage calculated above 15,000 gallons per quarter instead of 60,000 gallons per year?
- I only come to LBI occasionally January through March. Can I get a reduction in that quarter’s charge?
- How were the annual base rate for water and the quarterly allotment of 15,000 gallons determined?
- I have paid $531 for sewer every year for the past nine years. Why do we have an increase now all of a sudden?
- Would all the areas in LBT be charged the same rates for water and sewer in 2022?
- Why are these changes happening at all?
- Are these proposed water usage levels and water and sewer rates set in stone?
- Math was never my strong suit. Can you show me an example of the charges I am going to pay when I use more than 15,000 gallons of water in one quarter?
- Do I have to pay the full annual charge up front?
- 1When can I expect to receive a bill?
- How can homeowners get access to their actual usage before the bill arrives?
- Are businesses charged at a different rate for water & sewer than residences?
- Where can I find a copy of the actual proposed ordinance?
- When is the vote scheduled for this ordinance?
- How much am I going to have to pay for water? In 2022, the base rate depends on the size of your residence and how many things you have that water flows through or sits in — like sinks, toilets, hose spigots, showers, pools, hot tubs, irrigation systems, etc.
There is a base charge of $167 for the whole year and then a specific dollar amount for each item like a sink, hose spigot, shower, etc. is added to that base charge to determine the amount of your total water bill for 2022.
In addition, in 2022, if you use more than 15,000 gallons of water in any one quarter, you would be billed on a sliding scale for the extra water usage. The full rate schedule for water usage beyond the base allotment of 15,000 gallons per quarter is included in #3 below. The full proposed ordinance is available for you to view on the Home page on the LBT website: www.longbeachtownship.com
This arrangement will last one year. At the end of 2022, water rates will be determined for 2023 based on usage data collected over the past year.
- How much am I going to have to pay for sewer? $584 annual charge in 2022 for a single-family dwelling; $1,168 for a duplex (two-family dwelling). There is one annual, flat-fee charge for sewer services based on dwelling size and additional apartments in the structure. Undoubtedly, the rate will be adjusted in 2023.
- What happens if I use more than 15,000 gallons of water per quarter? You would be billed for the amount of water you used in excess of 15,000 gallons. The schedule below shows how much the charges would be per quarter per unit in a residential property:
15,001 – 25,000 gallons $2.00 per 1,000 gallons
25,001 – 50,000 gallons $4.00 per 1,000 gallons
50,001 – 100,000 gallons $8.00 per 1,000 gallons
100,001 – 150,000 gallons $12.00 per 1,000 gallons
150,001+ $16.00 per 1,000 gallons
- If I use less than 15,000 gallons in one quarter, can the “credit” be rolled over to the next quarter? No. Every quarter stands alone. Whether you use 10 gallons or 15,000 gallons in one quarter, the gallon count goes back to zero at the beginning of the next quarter.
- Why is extra water usage calculated above 15,000 gallons per quarter instead of 60,000 gallons per year (15,000 x 4 = 60,000)? We have water meters because the State of New Jersey mandated their installation and use in an effort to reduce water consumption across the state and to conserve this important natural resource.
There would be no incentive to reduce water consumption if the base rate were to be calculated annually. By billing quarterly, attention is focused on water usage throughout the year, not just when one bill arrives at year’s end – and then it would be too late to make adjustments in your water usage because the charges would be for the previous 12 months.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure and having a water meter allows you to do both. You will see exactly how much water you are using and then you can make decisions about any changes you might want to make, if necessary, to have a different outcome during the next three months.
- I only come to my LBI home occasionally January through March. Can I get a reduction in that quarter’s water charge? No, because the infrastructure behind that service runs 24/7 365 days a year, e.g., pump houses, water plants, pipe and hydrant maintenance. All of this physical equipment must be maintained so that when you turn your faucet on February 15, you won’t have to waste even one second wondering if the water is going to come out of the tap.
- How were the annual base rate for water and the quarterly allotment of 15,000 gallons determined?
Base rate for water: The goal was to keep the overall rate increase for 2022 at 10%.
There is no way to know in advance how much water LBT residents will choose to use in 2022. New Jersey law restricts the ability of municipalities to budget for “anticipated” revenues,” which would be the money collected in 2022 for water use above 15,000 gallons per quarter per meter. In other words, revenue projections must be based only on what actually happened in the past. Projected revenues for extra usage anticipated in the future cannot be factored into the current budget numbers.
The mayor, commissioners and LBT Water/Sewer Department personnel will review how much revenue was collected in 2022 and, if there is a surplus, the rates could be adjusted downward for 2023. As mentioned below in #11, it is the intention that over-collections would be used to lower the 2023 rate, barring, of course, any unexpected emergency expenses or added costs related to unforeseen challenges like a pandemic. Conversely, under-collections would most likely be charged for by adjusting the following year’s rates.
Quarterly allotment: The quarterly allotment of 15,000 gallons was determined by looking at similar municipalities, such as Avalon, who already have water meters, and by determining what has been successful for them.
The commissioner has been very clear (so clear that it is also stated in the answer to question #11 below): To the Township, water/sewer charges are not a money maker; the idea is for revenue to cover expenses and, thus, to break even. It is required by law in the state of New Jersey that the water/sewer budget must be kept separate from the general Township budget and the revenues cannot mix. Water and sewer revenues are never used to cover other capital expenses or for any other budget items.
- I have been paying $531 for sewer for the past nine years. Why do we have an increase now all of a sudden? There are several reasons for the rate increase: The pandemic resulted in many more people staying on the island longer than in previous years or moving here full-time. When there are more people, more goes into the sewer — and that increases how much the Township is charged by the Ocean County Utility Authority. The OCUA does all of our sewer processing and the Township’s cost is based on the volume.
In addition, there was an increase in the number of sewer projects in LBT. It costs money to fund the Township’s strategy to rebuild the entire infrastructure and to maintain a proactive maintenance schedule. Adhering to such a strategy significantly reduces the probability that Township residents would face crippling emergency outages in the future.
The fact that there has been no increase in sewer rates for the last nine years – the last one was in 2013, right after Sandy – also contributed to the need for such an adjustment. In retrospect, it would have been better to have raised the rate gradually over that period of time.
- Would all the areas in LBT be charged the same rates for water and sewer in 2022? Yes. All would be under the same rate structure in High Bar Harbor, Loveladies, North Beach, Brant Beach, LBT10 and Holgate.
- Why are these changes happening at all? Because the State of New Jersey mandated the installation and use of water meters in an effort to reduce water consumption across the state to conserve this important natural resource. Since the presence of water meters requires a new system of billing and changes in the rate structure, it seemed like a logical time to also make a change in the billing rate for sewer services.
- Are these proposed rates and quarterly usage levels set in stone? No. After the first year, and every year after that during the budget process, current levels will be assessed. These proposed rates are based on the combined 2022 water and sewer budget of approximately $13M.
The mayor, commissioners and Water/Sewer Department personnel will review how much revenue was collected during the previous year and, if there is a surplus or deficit, the annual charge would be adjusted appropriately. Unexpected emergency expenses and the added costs of unforeseen situations, such a pandemic, would also factor into these adjustments.
Until the Township has reliable metered data from all users, however, they won’t be able to adjust or fine tune the rate structure. For example, in the past, no one knew how many gallons of water the Township purchased from our suppliers. Currently, LBT pays a percentage of the overall water budget or is billed by our suppliers: Harvey Cedars, Ship Bottom, Surf City, Barnegat Light and Beach Haven. Going forward, flow meters will be installed on all interconnections with other water systems so LBT will know — for the first time ever — exactly how much water the Township purchases.
All of these data points and others would drive rate changes in the future. A separate over/under account would be maintained to track actual revenues. As mentioned above and elsewhere in this document, it is the intention that over-collections would be used to lower the 2023 rates , barring, of course, any unexpected emergency expenses or added costs related to unforeseen challenges like a pandemic. Conversely, under-collections would most likely be charged for by adjusting the following year’s rates.
The commissioner has been very clear (so clear that it is also stated in the answer to question #7 above): To the Township, water/sewer charges are not a money maker; the idea is for revenue to cover expenses and, thus, to break even. It is required by law in the state of New Jersey that the water/sewer budget must be kept separate from the general Township budget and the revenue cannot mix. Water and sewer revenues are never used to cover other capital expenses or for any other budget items.
- Math was never my strong suit. Can you give me an example of the charges I am going to pay when I use more than 15,000 gallons of water in a quarter?
You would be billed
First quarter water usage:
14,000 gallons 25% annual base rate only
Second quarter water usage:
18,000 gallons 25% annual base rate + $6
Third quarter water usage:
31,000 gallons 25% annual base rate + $44
Fourth quarter water usage:
16,000 gallons 25% annual base rate + $2
Show your work, please:
First quarter: Less than the base allotment of 15,000 gallons per quarter was used so there is no extra charge beyond 25% of your base annual rate, which is that $167 per year basic charge plus all the additional charges for sinks, bathtubs, irrigation, pools, hose spigots, hot tubs, etc.
Second quarter: No extra charge up to the base allotment of 15,000 gallons, but an extra charge of $2.00 was applied for every 1,000 gallons above the base allotment. 3 x $2 = $6 added to 25% of your base annual rate.
Third quarter: An extra charge of $2.00 was applied for every 1,000 gallons beyond 15,000 up to 25,000. After that amount was reached, an extra charge of $4.00 per 1,000 gallons was applied to gallons 25,001 – 31,000.
($2 x 10) + ($4 x 6) = $44
15,000 gallons + 10,000 gallons + 6,000 gallons = 31,000 gallons
Fourth quarter: No extra charge up to the base allotment of 15,000 gallons, but an extra charge of $2.00 was applied for every 1,000 thousand gallons above the base allotment, which in this case was $2.
- Do I have to pay the full annual charge up front? No. You will be billed quarterly for water and sewer – two separate charges on one bill. The billing schedule is included in the answer to #14 below.
- When can I expect to receive a bill? You can expect to receive four invoices during the calendar year on the following schedule:
2022 First quarter (“Q”) billing date:
February 5, due by Mar 1 (25% base rate only)
Second quarter billing date:
May 5, due by June 1 (25% base rate + Q1 excess)
Third quarter billing date: August 5, due by
Sept 1 (25% base rate + Q2 excess)
Fourth quarter billing date: November 5, due by
Dec 1 (25% base rate + Q3 excess)
2023 First quarter billing rate: February 5, due
March 1 (25% base + excess 2022 Q4)
The amount of your excess usage charges on each invoice would be determined by how much water you had used during the previous quarter.
- How can homeowners get access to their actual usage before the bill arrives? The Township is working on creating an app. More information will follow.
- Are businesses charged at different rates for water and sewer than residences? Yes. The annual base water rate for commercial properties would be determined by meter size. In addition, the charge for consumption of water per meter in excess of 15,000 gallons per quarter would be $4.33 per 1,000 gallons used.
Non-residential units would be charged different rates for sewer service based on the type of business. See Schedule No. 2 in the proposed ordinance for the complete list of sewer rates for commercial and other types of non-residential properties.
- Where can I get a copy of the actual proposed ordinance? It has been posted on the LBT website on the Home page: www.longbeachtownship.com
- When is the vote scheduled for this ordinance? The first reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Monday December 6, 2021, at the next regularly scheduled LBT public meeting, which begins at 4 pm. There is no vote in that meeting.
If there are no revisions, the ordinance would come up for a second reading and the vote in a public Township meeting on December 20, 2021. Before the mayor and commissioners vote on any second reading ordinances, the mayor invites members of the audience to come forward and speak about it or ask questions.
If a vote is still on the agenda after the public comment period, Mayor Mancini, Commissioner Ralph Bayard and Commissioner Joseph Lattanzi would then cast their votes yea or nay. If the majority vote is yea, the ordinance becomes an official Township regulation.
Township public meetings are open to the public and they begin at 4 pm in the courtroom in the LBT Municipal Building on 68th Street in Brant Beach.