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State to veto $3,000 gifts to Atlantic City MUA board members

State to veto $3,000 gifts to Atlantic City MUA board members

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ATLANTIC CITY — The state will use its new power over the city to veto the water authority’s decision to give its board members $3,000 gifts.

Jeff Chiesa, who is heading a state takeover of the city, will reverse the Municipal Utilities Authority’s decision to give outgoing board members the money, a state spokeswoman said Tuesday.

“The Division of Local Government Services rejects the action taken at the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority’s Nov. 28 special meeting; in particular, its vote to give outgoing members a $3,000 ‘gift’ in addition to their regular compensation and benefits package,” Department of Community Affairs spokeswoman Tammori Petty said in a statement.

MUA officials could not be reached for comment. An authority employee told a reporter no one at the MUA late Tuesday was authorized to talk to the media.

The DCA statement was in response to a Monday story in The Press of Atlantic City that reported the board’s vote. The board members approved giving themselves the monetary gifts after raising residential water rates by 10 percent to fill an unexpected budget hole.

“This action is further evidence of the MUA’s disregard for the ratepayers they serve and clearly demonstrates the authority does not understand the severity of the city’s financial condition,” Petty’s statement said.

Chiesa and Local Government Services Director Timothy Cunningham will also review the remainder of the MUA board meeting minutes, the statement said.

The so-called state takeover law gives Chiesa vast powers over the city, including the ability to hire or fire workers, sell city assets or break union contracts to fix the city’s finances. He also has the power to veto the minutes of city government meetings, including those of authorities.

The MUA raised rates after a contract change with New Jersey American Water, a private company considered a potential buyer of the water works. American Water had a $1.7 million agreement with the MUA but recently told the authority it doesn’t need the MUA’s water anymore.

Contact: 609-272-7215 Twitter @_Hetrick

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