By Willie Howard
Manalapan needs water customers in Hypoluxo if the town wants to stay in the water business.
Hypoluxo officials understand that, so they’re looking for rate cuts as they consider where to get water after the town’s water contract with Manalapan expires in September 2020.
During their July 20 meeting, Hypoluxo council members said they are in a good position to negotiate lower water rates — rates that could take effect well before the town’s contract with Manalapan ends.
“Manalapan needs to show us some good faith now, not in 2018 and not in 2020,” Hypoluxo Vice Mayor Michael Brown said.
“If they don’t show us good faith now,” Brown said, “we should tell them that in 2020 there’s a very, very good chance we’re going to go with Boynton Beach.”
Manalapan officials have been discussing whether to sell the town’s water system to Boynton Beach. If they plan to keep the system, they need a long-term water supply agreement with Hypoluxo, a consultant told them in June. About 600 water customers in Hypoluxo use about a third of the water produced by Manalapan’s plant and provide about half of the system’s revenue, according to consultant Kevin O’Donnell of Nova Energy Consultants in Cary, N.C.
Brown said Manalapan should at least eliminate the 20 percent nonresident surcharge that Hypoluxo water customers pay.
Brown also suggested that Hypoluxo approach Manalapan about becoming part owners of the Manalapan water plant so that Hypoluxo would have some control over the town’s water supply in the years ahead.
O’Donnell told Manalapan officials in June that the town’s water system is profitable and worth keeping — but only if they keep Hypoluxo customers connected.
He recommended offering Hypoluxo customers a 20 percent rate reduction if Hypoluxo officials agree to use Manalapan water for 30 years after the current contract expires.
Town Manager Linda Stumpf said Manalapan commissioners have taken the consultant’s rate-cut recommendation “under advisement” but have not discussed lowering rates for Hypoluxo customers beyond that.
Brown said he liked the quality of Manalapan’s water. But he said Manalapan’s rates should be based more on water consumption and less on base rates tied to meter sizes.
Hypoluxo Councilman William Smith said water suppliers should compete for the town’s customers just as providers of garbage collection and other services do.
“Let them come in, make presentations, and we’ll choose,” Smith said.
Hypoluxo Mayor Ken Schultz said officials from Boynton Beach and Manalapan would make separate water-supply presentations to the town council at the August and September council meetings.
Stumpf said Manalapan will make a water presentation to the Hypoluxo council at some point, but she said it would not be in August.
By Willie Howard