Shared Services: "A Community Affair"?

The PMUA touts their allegiance to the community; however, what they haven't told you is that Plainfield residents are charged $21 per month as part of their "shared service" to the community. We at are pretty certain that all residents love our community and have no problem paying for shared services. Things like, street sweeping, clean up of local parks, maintenance of streets, preservation of other public areas, etc. Usually these items are paid for through something called TAXES. What we can't understand is how the PMUA is allowed to charge residents for shared services and has been doing so for over EIGHT years! More specifically, we at did an analysis based on the figures PMUA used in the Sunday, March 1, 2009 Courier News. Here is what we found:


Courier News Article


PMUA's mandatory shared service charges amount to $21 per month for 2009. If we do some simple math (taking the low number), we get 12,000 households X $21 equals $252,000 per month or $3,024,000 per year. Aside from the legality of the PMUA billing residents for shared services, does it really cost $8284 per day for "the cost of downtown street sweeping and garbage collection; the preservation of other public areas, parks and community playgrounds in Plainfield?"


(According to DataUniverse, Plainfield appears to have approximately 10,850 residences, some of which are multi-family dwellings so PMUA's assertion of 12,000 households seems reasonable.)


Mr. Watson should know that residents are not questioning who they employ or the cleanliness of the areas serviced. The personnel who maintain the streets are not at issue. Does it cost $8284 per day for the downtown street sweeping, garbage collection, and the upkeep of community playgrounds?


We wish to thank our readers for their support, e-mails and feedback. One reader mentioned that our figures are inaccurate. The reader cited that PMUA doesn't pick-up on Saturdays or Sundays. Does this mean it costs $12,600 per day during a four week cycle for the downtown street sweeping (employ of 7 workers), garbage collection, and the upkeep of community parks?


The reader also mentioned that even if you don't opt-out, you are paying the same shared service fee! So does this mean that the PMUA is collecting $21 per month from all 15,000 households? If so that's $315,000 per month or $15,750 per day! Call PMUA: 908-226-2518 and ask them.


Analysis: We understand it costs $130 per ton for garbage dropped off at the Plainfield Transfer Station. If we give a daily allowance of $5,750 for workers' salaries, leasing of trucks, fuel, and other costs to operate the garbage and street sweepers, is PMUA saying that garbage generated for the downtown and playground areas approximates to 76.9 tons per day???


All of this is on top of the $43 per month each resident is paying for solid waste (garbage and recycling). This is already between $8 to $14 more per month than what residents of surrounding towns are paying. Do the math.... PMUA is charging $96,000 more per month than what other disposal companies in UNION COUNTY are charging. What's even scarier is that they have been getting away with it! These figures do not include the $1.2 million payment for "municipal solid waste contribution" from the City of Plainfield.


Feb 2009 - Click here to see the PMUA "A Community Affair" flyer that was available at the PMUA offices.


April 2009 - Click here to see the PMUA "A community Affair" flyer that is now available at the PMUA website or offices.


Here is PMUA's response to shared services, recent rate increase, and retroactive nature of said increase.



We are extremely confused about PMUA's financial audit from 2006 and 2005. It indicates that PMUA receives $1.2 million from the City of Plainfield as part of the municipal solid waste contribution. The same auditor's report shows that "Public can and street maintenance" amounted to $162,445 for 2006. Yet in 2006, PMUA charged residents $17.58 per month for shared services. Again, using simple math ($17.58 x 12,000 residents = $210,960 per month, or $2,531,530 in 2006). Aside from the fact that the city paid PMUA $1.2 million as part of their contribution, wouldn't the cost of PMUA's "shared service" amount to $162,445/12,000 = $13.54 per year or $1.13 per month (if they are even allowed to levy such a charge)? PMUA has some significant explaining to do! (click here to see the PDF of that auditor's breakdown) The complete document is available on our PMUA Docs. section of our website.


Someone may want to question why the board of commissioners were able to expense over $100,000 in one year? By law, their compensation can't exceed $4500 each. Why over $130,000 for board of commissioners operating costs? Don't take our word for it - click here to see the audit performed by PMUA's auditors