RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Wyckoff, Glen Rock and Midland Park residents were overcharged by Ridgewood's water service to offset their budget in a lawsuit dating back four years ago that continued in January, officials said.
Ridgewood Water Utility charged residents of Glen Rock, Midland Park and Wyckoff for costs that did not relate to water service to offset Ridgewood's own budget, according to a letter posted to Wyckoff's municipal website.
The letter says that the water company charged more so that "during periods of economic difficulty, Ridgewood does not have to make the tough choices that all other communities make by reducing expenditures or raising taxes on their own residents."
The other municipalities demanded a refund for seven years worth of rate increases. Joseph Fiorenzo, an attorney representing Wyckoff, Midland Park and Glen Rock, said he did not know how much money that could be.
Ridgewood Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld said she's received "mixed signals" from Wyckoff officials on if they want to resolve the water case.
"We do not think it productive to engage in dueling press releases to resolve outstanding litigation," Sonenfield said. "We hope this matter can be resolved amicably, but if not, the Village is fully prepared to defend this case.”
Local officials and legal representatives were set to meet for a mediation session Jan. 8. Fiorenzo said because Ridgewood did not send any members of their governing body, the meeting was "not productive."
Fiorenzo said he now asked for the case to be heard in court, and is waiting on a date and the next steps.
Sonenfield said Ridgewood officials also plan to have another meeting to discuss their position on another mediation session.
Meanwhile, Glen Rock Mayor Bruce Packer said he's hoping to set up a meeting with the public and Ridgewood officials to discuss the water situation. It would take place at a regularly scheduled council meeting, Packer said.
"Because it will include a number of personnel from Ridgewood Water, as well as Mayor [Paul] Aronsohn, we are looking to find a date that works for all involved," he said. "I should know pretty soon."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.