Despite Zimmer’s backing, new multi-million dollar Suez deal unlikely to pass

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While Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer continues to support a new deal with Suez Water, previously stating it would bring $40 million worth of benefits to the city, it appears that the measure will most likely be voted down by the council. Hoboken council

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Given that the proposed agreement would provide $31 million for urgently needed infrastructure upgrades, I ask the City Council take a vote on this issue at their meeting next week so that my Administration can move ahead accordingly,” Zimmer said in a statement.

“Under the existing agreement, the City – and by extension every taxpayer – is responsible for excess repair and bulk water costs. Ultimately, that means residents are footing the bill for car washes or laundromats that use millions of gallons of water, while the proposed agreement would make ratepayers responsible for their own water usage.”

According to Zimmer’s office, the current agreement through 2024 only requires Suez to make $350,000 per year in capital investments in the water system – less than the amount needed to make emergency repairs.

Also under the existing agreement, the city is responsible for repairs exceeding $350,000 per year, as well as excess bulk water costs as of 2014.

Furthermore, the city’s current liability to Suez under the existing agreement is $8.35 million and is estimated to total $17.8 million through 2024.

Meanwhile, the proposed agreement would extend the contract through 2034, forgive the existing liability, and provide an estimated $31 million investment in Hoboken’s water system.

The proposed agreement would also shift bulk water and capital repair costs from the taxpayer to the ratepayer.

Despite these facts, the majority of the council has indicated they will be opposing the resolution at Wednesday’s meeting.

“During our review and discussion of the administration’s prepared responses, we expressed additional concerns about the proposed contract. And we requested again to be provided with the detailed financial analysis supporting the proposal,” Council members Jen Giattino, Tiffanie Fisher and Pete Cunningham said in a joint statement.

“In correspondence the following day, we recommended to the administration the following next steps prior to having the City Council vote on the proposed contract: to have a subsequent subcommittee meeting to address the concerns we have raised and for the Administration and its consultants to meet with the entire City Council during an executive session to discuss the proposal in detail.”

The trio of council members added that both meetings have been scheduled for next week, stressing a need for “full transparency” before agreeing on “a critical and long-term financial operating contract for Hoboken.”

4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, a longtime nemesis of Zimmer, was less kind when explaining his concerns had not been met, though applauded the mayor’s former council allies for taking a stand on this issue.

“We still have a number of years left on this deal, so we have no real urgency to move this forward right now. I haven’t received any new information since the last council meeting, I’m not even sure if the committee met,” Ramos said over the phone.

“As far as Zimmer goes, she’s a lame duck mayor: she had eight-and-a-half years to push an agenda and she’s going to try legislate now? I’m just glad her former council allies realizes she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Councilman-at-Large Dave Mello also told Hudson County View he wasn’t particularly impressed with the new Suez contract and was therefore leaning heavily towards voting no.

“Obviously we need a better contract, but the contract put in front of us doesn’t seem to be better in any facet other than it’s going to put more money into maintenance. Unfortunately, the maintenance money seems to be on the backs of the taxpayers,” Mello stated.

“They’re a publicly traded company and they’ve had a sweetheart deal for some time now and it doesn’t shift much of the burden onto them … I think we’re keeping the window opportunity for a true option for Hoboken and it’s important not to lock in another negative contract for the Hoboken taxpayer and the Hoboken ratepayer.”

In the event that the measure is voted down, Zimmer’s allies will inevitably accuse the council of playing politics.

Giattino is running for mayor, with Fisher and Cunningham serving as two of her biggest supporters, Mello is seeking re-election on Freeholder Anthony Romano’s slate and Ramos has been one of the most vocal backers of 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco’s mayoral run.

The proposed agreement was introduced at the July 11th council meeting ad was expected to be voted on at the subsequent meeting on August 3rd.

While the matter was tabled last month, Ramos and DeFusco sparred with Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla over whether or not he had a conflict of interest since his law firm represents Suez.

In an email obtained by Hudson County View from Bhalla sent to Zimmer, the council and Business Administrator Stephen Marks, the mayoral candidate says he will be recusing himself from Wednesday’s vote on the Suez contract – despite the fact DeFusco presented many falsehoods at the previous council meeting.

“I have zero personal or financial interest in the MOU and the subject matter therein, beyond being a water customer of Suez by virtue of my residency in Hoboken and the fact that water is supplied through this utility, an interest shared by virtually all residents in the City, all Council members and members of the administration residing in the City,” Bhalla wrote in yesterday’s email.

“I am not involved in any way, shape or form in any matters involving United Water Suez at my firm, nor have I ever been involved, directly or indirectly, in any matters involving United Water Suez during the course of my employment at FPSF.”

DeFusco and Bhalla did not return immediately return inquiries seeking comment this morning.

“I hope the Council will support the agreement since it is in the best interests of our City. Rejecting the contract is the Council’s prerogative,” Zimmer began in a follow-up statement addressing the possibility of the contract being voted down.

“However, failing to vote and instead expressing their concerns and opinions through the press would be an abdication of their jobs, clearly putting politics ahead of the vital interests of Hoboken residents. I trust that the City Council will do their job and take a vote so the City can move forward with this contract or with another alternative.”

The Hoboken City Council will meet at City Hall, 94 Washington Street, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

38 COMMENTS

    • Lies from Drip, Drip, Drip. Ravi did not do that, and clearly you don’t know what a “SLAPP” is. Dope.

      Meet the new bosses, same as the old bosses. Good job, Team Giattino. Nice way to kill $31M in infrastructure improvements. Beth Mason 101: Kill progress, claim you need more information, blame lack of progress which you kill on the mayor.

      • Bosses? Well if one has to choose between the two reform Mayoral candidates, it seems obvious the one who has the most reformers with her.
        Why did 3/4 of the Zimmer team decide not to go with Ravi?

        • It’s all in your head. Giattino got 85 (heard it was more like 75) to her fundraiser, Ravi got 100+ Hobokenites. Reformers. Giattino’s over-estimated her support and under-estimated Ravi’s. All the Ravi bashing is hurting her brand. Ravi is running a positive campaign. Giattino’s campaign so far is unimpressive. I hear at least one Dem campaign manager is not taking the campaign’s calls. What Democratic campaign manager wants to elect a Republican mayor?

          • The only bashing going on is at that toxic Bhalla brigade locale. Giattino’s support is mushrooming not that a Bhalla fanatic would have any clue about events never attended.

            Ravi certainly has the inner core of mayor people and business people who are having their arms twisted for money. Who wants to even touch the worse exploitation of Hoboken residents to sign on for endorsements? It’s shameful!

            If Ravi’s desperate bid to stifle dissent is reflected by his latest threats, yeah we can call that positive. The rest of Hoboken is laughing.

            Did people hear about the laughable Ravi “cease and desist” letters trying to shut people up? Oh the Ravi campaign is certainly positive. One more positive step and next they’ll be mobs out on the streets threatening to beat people up if they don’t keep silent on the growing pile of conflicts.

            Toxic Avenger Nancy Pincus will be applauding it all.

          • Folks, there is no truth to Mr. Toxicity’s statements about “cease and desist letters” and opinions expressed by Mr. “Toxicity Avenger” are just that- opinions.

            Further, there is no evidence to back up that “mushrooming support” statement (or he is talking about an Athletes Foot fungal infestation) and I detect some jealousy. Not a peep about DeFusco or Stick. SAD!

          • Nancy Pincus, you need to ask questions and stop taking everything you’re told as fact. Once again, you’re caught with your pants down. Go ahead and write there’s no “cease and desist letters” on your Toxic Avenger site. See what happens.

            Why don’t you at least ask Stan Grossbard who is keeping you in the dark. He wouldn’t lie to you would he? He most definitely knows about those letters and those who were targeted. Flavio was on point executing them as a favor to Ravi.

            You are in a toxicity bubble. You will learn once again too late how wrong you are.

            There’s no way the Bhalla campaign can keep a lid on the conflicts of interests and the “cease and desist” threats. One recipient shoved it right back in their face.

            No matter how much you attack Jen Giattino here or at your toxic site, she’s on the rise. You will be the last to know. This November you’ll be crying when you take the Bhalla sign down on your door.

          • Far be it for a hateful “Toxicity Avenger” to tell a lie– a “Toxicity Avenger” who makes Sikh-puns and sends creepy “I’ll be watching you” texts to Ms. Pincus- that is one GIANT creep and confabulator. Does this type of engagement get you off? It seems to. SAD.

          • You’ll be wrong on all of it Nancy as there’s a council meeting tomorrow. Everyone will be laughing at you.

            Then you’ll learn that you were kept in the dark and lying for the shadow. Change the subject and move on, rinse, repeat.

            When you learn the truth, you can thank the shadow. The shadow knows, the shadow knows.

            Don’t forget to thank him for destroying what little credibility you have left going Bonkers for Bhalla!

          • Wishful thinking, GIANT Toxic-Ass! Looking forward to watching you make a GIANT ass out of yourself at the meeting! Are you going to entertain Hoboken with Sikh-puns? Or tell Hoboken about your gal’s “mushrooming” support, though she got 1,000 fewer petitions in than Bhalla? And thanks for the heads-up on the Giattino-DeFusco collaboration. Oh, I know quite a bit more than you. But keep flattering that GIANT ego- you are the smartest, the wisest, you hold the truth, and anyone who disagrees with you deserves whatever you do to them.

            https://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2017/09/reformers-poised-to-kill-39m-benefit-to.html

          • Nancy, why are you trying to promote your propaganda here? Isn’t it enough for you to promote the lies and misinformation there?

            Everyone knows there’s a water main exploding with millions in hidden costs and no explanation from the administration.

            Everyone knows except you with your disgusting personal attacks on the council members who are doing their job.

            You attack them and they are the ones who trying to shed transparency on the million dollar red ink hidden from the public.

            You’re no government watchdog you are a Bonkers for Bhalla hyena!

            You’re lying bubble of babbling bonkers Bhalla brownnosers is about to burst!

            Jen Giattino, Peter Cunningham and Tiffanie Fisher are the heroes and Ravi Bhalla and the Zimmer administration are the zeroes.

          • Lol, a “hyena”? No, Krazy Kurt. I am a Hoboken taxpayer whose property was damaged by a water main break on my corner. The 2ND one didnt get in my house, fortunately. I guess selfish Krazy Kurt living on an upper floor of his building has no such worries. Other residents whose cars and property are damaged every time an old main breaks are not as lucky as you. Krazy Kurt, keep defending your reckless “Council of No” and their private, unannounced NON-TRANSPARENT “ad hoc” meetings where they conclude, in Beth Mason-like fashion, they need “more information.” Keep blabbering about “hidden costs” – are we playing Where’s Waldo? The kind of nastiness you have displayed here is why I blocked you on FB and asked you to stop texting me. Your last words: “I’ll be watching you.” I guess you are! CREEPY.

    • Ravi had no choice. He’s conflicted out. Why didn’t he know about his conflict when the Suez presentation was made?

      Is there information on a debt holding Hoboken taxpayers on the hood for a very large seven figure bill?

      If that’s true, then there’s millions of reasons that council members Jen Giattino, Peter Cunningham and Tiffanie Fisher demand full transparency for the benefit of the public.

      • Not true. His recusal was voluntary and not required. Jen, Peter and Tiffanie are the new “Council of NO”. Tiffanie is the reincarnation of Beth Mason- “I need more information…” after matters have been exhaustively reviewed and negotiated. We can expect Defusco, Ramos and Russo to not care if our streets and water systems are in disrepair if keeping them in disrepair is electorally helpful, but Peter, Tiffanie and Jen? SHAMEFUL. The ELECTION STUNT is that they are going to table and bury it in subcommittee pending receipt of a “financial analysis”. They’ve received one already. They want more and more analysis while Hoboken streets and water mains are in disrepair. This stunt is so 2011. Hold up progress, blame the mayor. Ridiculous.

          • She gets her information from the same shadow who can lie to her and she responds each time, “Thank you sir may I have another?”

            Ravi Bhalla isn’t recusing himself because he doesn’t have to do so. He’s recusing because he has no choice.

          • “Sybilitis” aka “my Stalker” – boy you are a chauvinist pig. Right, I’m a man’s typewriter. Got those issues, huh? You really need to find yourself a woman. You’ll be much less frustrated, if you know what I mean. *wink*

  1. One might think Vile Avenger is on Ravi’s payroll the way she lives on Ravi is very Bajardi-like
    Shes lost so many friendships with all reformers all for Ravi
    The BOE moms shudder whenever they run into her.
    She’s more toxic than the sludge in a Zimmer trash filled bioswaile

    • Well, if it isn’t Phony Sores, the DeFusco operative who comes on MSV to agitate for Giattino against Ravi (cause a divided reform is good for Mikey). If “friends” can be lost over political alliances, they were never “friends.” My friends are still my friends, and you are not one of them. You are a user with no moral compass. Such juvenile insults, too. I thought you were a bigger person than that.

  2. It’s pathetic that people who claim to leaders and want higher office put their own personal agenda ahead of the welfare of the people they claim they want to serve.

    • Wow, you sound like Dave Roberts when he said Zimmer and 4 council members wouldn’t vote to pay his 18 million deficit.
      It’s truly pathetic that you make excuses for a Mayor that has yet to disclose the real reason she’s not running.
      Maybe the 8 million in unpaid bills to SUEZ is the answer, or maybe it’s a lawsuit she wants Ravi to continue to fund or maybe it’s something personal and for that last reason it’s understood. But the lies that she’s going to fight Trump is stupid and just another Stawn publicity stunt.

      • WhatsThatOnYourNose: When the council asked England, Roberts business admin, if the budget was fully funded he couldn’t say yes. In this case a full presentation has been made and the details are available for the council to decide to vote yes or no. If they vote to keep the existing contract they should say why they like it or what specifically was missing from the option they turned down.

        Leaders Lead from the front, not by dodging the tough issues. I think the polls are reflecting who voters see as showing leadership.

    • What’s pathetic is the secret million dollar bill for Hoboken water. How much is the secret bill Hoboken taxpayers are facing? Is it five million? Six million? Seven million?!

      Yeah, talk about pathetic. You should know what the hell you’re talking about before you start talking about what is real and certifiably pathetic.

      Stiffing Hoboken taxpayers with a late end of term water bill for millions certainly qualifies.

  3. The Mayor is misleading when she says that the rate increases will be borne by bulk users. That simply isn’t true. ALL who receive a water bill will pay the increase this deal will incur. The reality is that Suez is a for profit company. So what that means is that , while the Mayor may call the provisions of the contract “concessions”, the cost will be the responsibility of the rate payers…NOT SUEZ. Prior administrations could have proposed similar deals, but they instead chose to be more conservative in their approach and spare the ratepayers the huge increase that will accompany this deal. What she is proposing is an astronomical back door tax that will hit small homeowners the hardest. She may single out car washes and the like, but the truth is that they already pay for the volume of water that they use and will continue to do so. Zimmer doesn’t care about the future cost of this deal because chances are that she will get out of town as soon as she is out of office leaving behind a mountain of bonding debt and now, a rate increase unlike any in the history of this town. The new Suez deal is dangerous and needs to be voted down.
    Let the taxpayers speak and select the next Mayor. Then that Mayor can handle the negotiations for a new contract. Hopefully, it will be a contract that is fair and equitable to all parties and spares the taxpayers any more harm. Zimmer is leaving behind a mountain of debt that simply cannot continue to grow.

    • I don’t know if Oy has a point here or not, but I applaud him for raising something worth debating vs the predominantly middle school sniping.

    • “ALL who receive a water bill will pay the increase this deal will incur.”

      Under the existing contract that’s not true. Increases in the bulk water costs are paid by the City not the Rate Payer/User. Which means the tax payer will be paying. As Hoboken has no significant business tax the reality is under the current plan the small home owner will be paying higher taxes to subsidize the water bill of businesses.

      Under the new proposed contract increases in bulk water will payed by the person or business that consumes it, which means no tax increase to subsidize businesses’ water bills.

      The proposed contract also increases Suez’s yearly maintenance obligation from 350K to 500K. Currently the city pays for any maintenance costs over 350K in a calendar year from taxes. Moving that to 500K saves taxpayers 150K per year. Not to mention the revenue sharing franchise fee in the proposed contract which the city can use to modernize the water system, reducing water main breaks and yearly maintenance costs.

      A vote against this contract is a vote for higher property taxes and to keep the aging water system.

      • FAP- The increase would go from existing $350K/yearly– $1.8M/yearly average (Not $500K). And Hoboken’s $8.35M liability would be wiped out.

        • FAP- can you explain what the8.35 M in liability is from? Why wasn’t Zimmer paying that bill, why was it being buried to avoid the election year tax increase?

          Tell us what it’s for- you seem to have more inside info that even Nancy or Roman

  4. How could one go after SO MANY of their friends the way they are doing now… Tiffanie, Jen, Roman, Kurt, Indie, Carol, Mike, Jim Aibel…. 3 of the 4 legs of the Zimmer stool are with Jen

    How could so many be fooled by this Machine made Council Slate? Rather than go to central casting to find 2/3rd of his council slate why didn’t Bhalla work with the real deals?

    Emily seems very nice, John is probably fine, but have they done anything beyond posting food photos on Instagram at the restaurants they’re suddenly patronizing here in their new town?

  5. Please don’t question the Ravi the snow flake — he is only recusing himself because there is no conflict!

    ” I did not have sex with that woman!” – Pres Clinton
    ” I am not a crook”- Richard Nixon
    ” Read my lips – No new taxes” – GHW Bush
    ” I promise a 15% tax cut in my first year ” –D Zimmer

    • exactly my thoughts about the numerous whopper lies told by Team Zimmer. The lies of Team Zimmer ranks right up there with “the check is in the mail”. She should publish the playbook that Fulop reads off of on numerous ways how to pad the budget, drop essential services and otherwise bamboozle your constituents – all the while claiming to be a fantastic Mayor.

  6. Zimmer showed her true bitter, vindictive, petty and finger pointing self last night.
    Bhalla AKA “The Wheeling Whisperer” hid at the back of the council chambers and was called out, even Reform leader Fisher called him out that when you are recused, you LEAVE the room, not just the camera’s view.

    Boy, the FACT that Stawn were calling for an early deal on Suez so she could get them to forgive the 8 million in unpaid bulk water bills SHE WAS NOT PAYING sounds pretty corrupt

  7. This has turned into Hoboken Watergate. How could the Administration not know about the accumulation of debt with Suez? Either the Administration did know and covered it up until now, or is so incompetent that this snuck up on them. Either way it’s bad news for anyone trying to run on Zimmer’s Third Term. How can Backroom Bhalla handle this going forward when he is so clearly conflicted. (Statement of opinion Ravi do don’t try to sue me you litigious Backroom bastard)

    You know who feels vindicated right now? Dave Roberts that is who. He tried to keep taxes flat and after 8 years was $10 million in the hole. Fast forward to Mayor Zimmer and she is now seeking $10 million in debt forgiveness as of this morning when just last night it was $8.3 million. Can anyone in that Administration grasp simple mathematics?

    This is scandal and it will scar Zimmer’s legacy in a big big way. The Mayor’s shell game of hiding the tax increases is finally exposed and history has repeated itself once again. Ravi Roberts for Mayor- a third term for Zimmer/The Shadow means another $10 million in the hole and conflicts galore with Suez and NJ Transit.

    Time to distance myself from the Zimmer debacle especially her coronated choice of a candidate with more conflicts than 18th Century Europe. #ByeByeBalkanizingBhalla

    • “Can anyone in that Administration grasp simple mathematics?” Like so many subjects it is hard to determine if they can’t or they won’t. Watching Council meetings and reading administration PR leads me to believe they do not grasp the substance of municipal government to give Honest Service to the smallest of towns.

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