Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo hopes there will be new discussion about combining Atlantic County Utilities Authority (ACUA) with the Atlantic City water authority, according to a letter he sent on Wednesday.
“The time is now to ensure that Atlantic City’s prestigious water company stays in public hands,” wrote Mazzeo in the letter addressed to the two top executives at the authorities and lawyer Jeff Chiesa, who is charged with overseeing the state takeover of Atlantic City.
The ACUA and the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority (ACMUA) last year held talks about working together to help the city water authority generate more income, which would help bolster the city’s own financial position.
“I’m writing today in the hopes that this letter will help renew the conversation in an effort to bring together two well-run utilities authorities for the sake of the public good,” Mazzeo wrote.
The fate of Atlantic City’s water authority has been uncertain since the precarious position of the city’s finances put pressure on officials to sell or lease it.
Officials at the water authority were working on ways to increase the payouts the water authority makes to Atlantic City. And under Mayor Don Guardian’s proposed 2016 rescue plan for the city, the water authority would have issued debt to buy Bader Field, thus solving one aspect of the city’s financial crisis. But the state decided last November to take over Atlantic City, in part because it did not see the mayor’s rescue plan as an effective way to monetize the city’s remaining assets.
“Keeping the water company in public hands would…safeguard the quality of the water and avoid long-term rate hikes,” Mazzeo wrote.
At a meeting on Tuesday night, the Atlantic City Council agreed to preserve the right of citizens to vote on any plan that would sell or lease the water authority.