Resident Edward Tomasula addresses the council about his utility penalties. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Joseph Ricciardo is sworn in as Deputy Mayor by Kevin Kelly, as Carol Wiley holds the Bible. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Mayor Sandra Diglio presents Margaret McCabe with a plaque for her service to the Planning Board. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Resident Wayne Levante inquires about auto-debit payments for Water and Sewer Bills. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Town of Newton Council Votes Unanimously To Waive Resident's Water and Sewer Penalties
Wednesday, July 11, 2012 • 1:14am
NEWTON, NJ – “I’ve never had to plead a case in the 40 years I’ve lived here,” resident Edward Tomasula stated to the council, hesitating at times, when he addressed the Town of Newton Town Council at Monday night’s meeting.
Tomasula said he received a penalty on his Water and Sewer Bill, an issue, which Town Manager Thomas S. Russo, Jr. prefaced, had reached the Utility Advisory Board as an appeal.
“It happened while I was in Florida last November,” Tomasula began. “I’ve never had difficulties in the 15 years I’ve been going there.”
“Everything was fine with the March Water and Sewer Bill,” Tomasula continued.
He then received a bill for the first and last quarters of 2011, and one for the first quarter of 2012. Included with the bill were two penalty charges, for both the first and last quarters of 2011. The penalties tallied to $54.78 ($27.39 per quarter).
“I sent a bill and check for the total, excluding the penalty,” Tomasula clarified. “I didn’t think it was fair because I never received a bill. I explained in a letter I suggest it go to the utility commission. They [Utility Advisory Board] sent a letter denying the non-payment of the penalty, and suggested I go ahead and speak to the town council.”
The council listened as Tomasula proceeded.
“I don’t think I should be penalized for something I didn’t do,” said Tomasula. “I heard through the neighborhood grapevine there were problems with billings in the same area. I mentioned it to the company, and the company denied it.”
“I never got a bill or a phone call,” Tomasula stated. “It was a foul up between the post office and the water company. And here I am pleading to you because I feel injustice.”
Newly appointed Deputy Mayor Joseph Ricciardo said, “I don’t think you should be charged a penalty for a post office mistake, it was never sent.”
Ricciardo confirmed a significant amount of bills were lost within the post office.
“I’ll move to waive the penalty, period,” Ricciardo said.
All other members of the council collectively agreed to waive the penalties.
In other business:
· Ricciardo was sworn in as Deputy Mayor because he was out of the area when the town’s regular reorganization event took place on July 2. He offered his congratulations to Mayor Sandra Diglio, and Councilman Daniel Flynn, who just began his tenure with the council.
· Diglio presented Margaret McCabe with a plaque for her 14 years of service to the Town of Newton. McCabe was a volunteer for the Planning Board from 1998, until her resignation until this year. “Than you very much for all your labor,” Diglio said.
· The council voted to disburse funds to SCARC from its Housing Trust Fund. Unspent Housing Trust Funds around the state may be forcibly returned to Trenton, when dollars are not used by July 17, if a state appeals court ruling decides towns must forfeit their monies.
· Resident Wayne Levante asked if the council would consider taking Water and Sewer payments via auto debit payments, after hearing about Tomasula’s ordeal. Russo said the council would take the idea under consideration.