On Tuesday, March 26 2019, rather than giving my traditional 'Mayor's Report,' I opted instead to give some prepared remarks. Since we had two financial agreements on the agenda regarding PILOTs, Payments in Lieu of Taxes, my remarks centered around a PILOT explanation, all the positive benefits for Belleville, the additional revenue and how little they actually impact that School District. I believe the applause at the end, is indicative of the silent majority in Belleville finally stepping forward to be heard. If you're concerned or curious, I highly recommend taking the time to listen.
Belleville's 'After-Hours Lecture in the Conservatory'
Last week, the Council took the first in a series of steps needed toward creating what you can think of as an energy buying co-op for our residents. The group buying aspect is precisely what separates this program from the people who walk around ringing our doorbells, and trying to get you to switch providers. That IS NOT this program, AT ALL.
In short, if we bundle our residential energy buyers, this gives us group buying power. We then attend a reverse auction, whereby the current PSE&G rate is the starting point, and energy suppliers bid down from there. This is precisely why the rate will never be more than PSE&Gs. If the bid rate is lower than PSE&G’s, we lock it in. Which is precisely why you will NEVER be charged more than PSE&G’s rate. PSE&G and the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) endorse this practice for bulk buyers of energy. Up until recently, you had NO choice in energy providers, now you do. Taking advantage of that freedom is what allows the municipality to create this program. Understand, the municipality also selects cable providers, like Fios and Comcast, whereby, other towns like Nutley do not have Comcast, rather they have Cablevision.
Before I explain the program in more detail, please know the following:
- The Township makes no money from this, nothing at all.
- At this point, nothing has changed
- We only voted to create the program
- Extensive marketing and educational materials will follow
- Multiple public forums will be offered
- Residents who don’t fully understand the program, or do not want to participate in the savings, can opt out. Those who opt out, can opt back in at any time.
Most importantly, after the auction, if the price doesn’t represent a savings, we do not move forward. Period. End of story.
Again, we only took the first step. There is a fairly lengthy process still ahead. In order for this program to yield a savings for our residents, we need to include as many potential customers as possible. We basically get a savings because of our group buying power. That’s why I often relate this to a co-op. Please know, it is IMPOSSIBLE for your rate to increase. We will only continue after the auction, if the auction price for electric is lower than what PSE&G charges. And again, you will be afforded every opportunity to opt-out when the time comes. With the exception of one line, your bill will not change. Nobody else will bill you. Most residents won’t even know there’s been a change.
- You will still get one bill from PSE&G
- You will continue to call PSE&G for customer service
- You will continue to have PSE&G come out for service calls
Many other towns are enjoying this benefit. I’ve included a letter from the Mayor of Linden, who recently renewed the program on behalf of his residents, as well as a basic information sheet. Also, a letter and information sheet from Cinnaminson. Some have been circulating a recent press release from Bloomfield. I URGE you all to read it thoroughly. It validates exactly how safe this program is. Bloomfield received a rate which saved their residents $700,000 since the program’s inception. As they went out for a renewal bid, the rate they could lock in wasn’t cheaper. Therefore, all customers reverted back to PSE&G. The customers did nothing and most probably didn’t even know they went back. In March/April, Bloomfield will be going back out to auction in the hopes of locking in a cheaper rate to continue the cost savings.
- We go to an auction and receive a fixed price, which MUST be lower than the current rate.
- It's that simple
- It's NOT the equivalent of the people who come around ringing doorbells.
PLEASE KNOW – We cannot explain and market a program BEFORE we create it. In this case, I was comfortable creating it first, as initially it obligates NO ONE. We WILL MARKET the program and hold several PUBLIC FORUMS. At that time, you can opt out. We will then go to auction and ONLY move forward if we can lock in a GUARENTEED cost savings. If we cannot, NOTHING HAPPENS. The program will NEVER take effect.
Lastly, I urge you all to PLEASE vet the information you read online and question the sources. I only ask that you question them as much as you question me. Fair enough? Understand these people ARE NOT HAPPY with the change and progress we are making.
They are trying to capitalize on your perceived ignorance. Please do not allow them to perpetuate the same negativity, and divide and conquer techniques, that has seemingly held back our great Township for more than a decade.
Current Status of Illegal Mailer Lawsuit
Immediately following the election, as promised, I filed a complaint with New Jersey’s Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) regarding the various illegal mailers that were sent during the campaign. Those mailers not only attacked my team, but other candidates as well. At that time, it was unknown who the perpetrators were.
Soon thereafter, we had an attorney file a complaint in Essex County Superior Court against ‘John Doe,’ ‘Jane Doe’ and various fictitious corporations. Doing this gave us subpoena power to compel the mail house, which produced and mailed the illegal mailers, to turn over the identities of the responsibile individuals.
After our subpoena was filed, we were granted subpoena power. A subpoena was eventually served on the mail house compelling them to turn over documents pertaining to the illegal mailers.
The mail house complied with the subpoena and turned over all documents relating to the illegal mailers. It was at this point, we finally learned that the mailers were prepared, organized and supplied to the mail house by a Township employee who is also an elected member of the Belleville Board of Education. We also learned that the illegal mailers were paid for by Mayor Kimble’s campaign account.
At that time, I then sent a second letter to ELEC and provided the evidence we received from the mail house. While I asked them to pursue the perpetrators, I clearly appealed to them, for various reasons, not to pursue the Mayor nor his Treasurer.
We eventually filed a second subpoena with the mail house. This time we asked them for any digital data. By this time, we knew who the main facilitator was and who paid for the illegal mailers, but we didn’t know who designed them. While we still haven’t turned up the designer, we did find out who supplied the mailing list that was used for the mailers. The name that appeared was, at the time, a municipal vendor who is also a current elected official with the Belleville Board of Education.
Armed with concrete, irrefutable evidence, our attorney filed complaints against all parties involved. I promised we would hold those responsible accountable and that is what we are doing! My hope is that this finally ends the nasty electioneering that happens in the weeks leading up to a local election. If you have something to say, follow the law and disclose your name and who paid for your mailing.