Utilities law could fund infrastructure repair in Burlington, Camden counties
Burlington and Camden counties will take part in a state pilot program allowing their utilities authorities to fund infrastructure projects.
Under the program, authorities could fund improvements in towns they serve “as another method to repair or replace aging county infrastructure through a means other than the local property tax.”
The program is intended to fund projects where the county and a utilities authority have a common interest, said state Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, one of the bill’s sponsors.
Gov. Chris Christie initially returned the bill to the Legislature with a conditional veto, expressing concern that it would put upward pressure on water rates or discourage maintenance by utilities.
He signed the bill Tuesday after legislators agreed to state oversight for the four-year project.
Projects would require written agreements between each county and its utilities authority, as well as approval of the state Department of Community Affairs.
Each authority also would have to submit an annual report to the Legislature detailing money spent on county infrastructure improvements.
The law provides “another tool to improve our infrastructure such as roadways,” Gloucester County Freeholder Director Robert Damminger said in a prepared statement.
“Our roadways and infrastructure in Gloucester County is tied directly to driving economic development here, so every resource helps.”
Camden County Freeholder-Director Louis Cappelli Jr. called the new law “common-sense legislation that will provide counties the opportunity to use surplus funds or reserves from another agency for infrastructure improvement projects.”
Money for projects would come from an authority’s “undesignated fund balance or unreserved retained earnings,” according to the legislation.