This week, A-3142 and S-922/A-5043 were before the Assembly Special Committee on Infrastructure and Natural Resources. While S-922/A-5043 was only discussed, the committee voted to approve A-3142, sending it to second reading in the Assembly. The League opposes both of these pieces of legislation.
A-3142 revises certain licensure requirement necessary to operate water supply and wastewater treatment systems. The bill, amongst other things, would allow professional engineers to take the operator licensing examination without meeting certain additional requirements such as operating experience or direct responsible charge experience.
While the League is aware of the shortage of operators of water supply and wastewater treatments systems, we must remain cognizant of the need to ensure that these positions are filled by qualified candidates. Expanding water supply and wastewater examination eligibility to professional engineers without relevant experience or specific technical training in these areas could result in less able or knowledgeable individuals filling these roles. This in turn puts the health, safety, and welfare of our municipal residents in jeopardy.
S-922/A-5043 would require a municipality seeking approval from the Local Finance Board for dissolution of their municipal water authority to meet certain requirements including, 1) providing an asset management plan for the water system already required by law, and 2) a plan to dedicate funds on an annual basis to address and remediate the highest priority projects for its water system as identified by the asset plan, as already required by law. Additionally, and most concerning, is the Local Finance Board may not approve a plan for dissolution unless all fund balances held by the authority will be used only for the purpose of the water system and not used for general municipal purposes.
The constraints that S-922/A-5043 would place on a municipality seeking to dissolve its water authority will discourage the creation of new municipal water authorities, thus preventing local residents from any benefits the creation of such an authority could offer.
The League is continuing outreach to legislators to express our concerns. We will keep you updated as these bills continue to work their way through the legislative process.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x137.