North Hudson Sewerage Authority Commissioner Libero Marotta, who represents Union City, took Hoboken Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla to task for being critical of the NHSA board without ever seeing him at a meeting.
At Thursday night’s meeting, Marotta made it a point to express his displeasure over the fact that Hoboken residents talked disparagingly about the practices of the NHSA board at the last city council meeting where Kurt Gardiner was appointed to the board – replacing longtime member Frank Raia.
“I think these comments that were made out of Hoboken have no basis in fact. I don’t know why they were made. I don’t know if they were political in nature,” Marotta said just before the meeting, where a $51 million budget and 4.5 percent water rate increase were approved, concluded.
“But I think they were an insult, not only to the board, but to our executive director and engineer, but also to the other mayors – the other three mayors that are a part of this organization.”
Before calling it a night, he specifically called out “one of the council people in Hoboken” for claiming the NHSA board meeting only last 20 minutes, which is why it appears more transparency is needed.
At the January 20th Hoboken City Council meeting, Bhalla said “you know, we’re talking about … the sewerage authority appointments and who should go do what but know one talks about the issues.”
“And transparency is another issue I’m concerned about, too. I hear these meeting are done 20 minutes: boom, they’re out of there by 7:20 [p.m.]. (Laughs) Well where do these decisions get made?”
Bhalla added that that there is little way for members of the public to know what is actually being discussed during the subcommittee meetings of the NHSA – which are voted on at the regular meetings without a clear idea of what was previously discussed.
“You know this is a $50 million authority, I think their annual revenue is about $50 million when I read their last audit, and my understand is their subcommittees are very influential in the operation decisions of this authority and the decision of those committees are ratified at the meetings, but the actual discussions are somewhat behind closed doors.”
Marotta was visibly heated when addressing Bhalla’s recent remarks.
“My response to this gentleman, whose never been at one of these meetings – to my knowledge, and I’ve been here quite a few years – that before he starts talking politically, he better know what he’s talking about. And he doesn’t know how this organization functions.”
“We have other meetings than just this monthly meeting of this board. We have meetings of the committees where a lot of work is being done. In fact, tonight’s meeting is a reorganization meeting, which should’ve taken 20 minutes, but I look at the clock and I see we’re over an hour.”
Bhalla declined to comment further when reached by Hudson County View.