Page 11 - June 2, 2021
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{ 10 }  SNJ Today  |  JUNE 2, 2021                                                                                   JUNE 2, 2021  |   { 11 }
                                  Monetizing The Authority

      MAYORAL MUSINGS                                                                                        Albert B. Kelly, Mayor, City of Bridgeton

          ast time I opined about the possibili-  viding the CCUA with         that’s how it should work. But when the   will allow the CCUA to make investments
          ties available to Cumberland County   a chunk of capital now         skepticism kicks in, the first question is who   on behalf of its customers.
     Land its communities as a result of   investors would basi-               stands to make money off the deal. Certainly   As it stands, some 70 percent of CCUA
     American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies   cally be making a bet on         the attorneys followed by a few others, but   ratepayers are from the City of Bridgeton
     and what we might accomplish working   robust future revenues.            regardless you know someone’s pushing   with the remaining 30 percent being in
     together on infrastructure projects to bet-  As with any discus-          because they’re making money on the deal.  Upper Deerfield, Hopewell, and Fairfield
     ter position us for the future. What I didn’t   sions involving the pri-    Beyond that, the skepticism extends to   townships. My point is that if the CCUA
     know at the time was that some of the lead-  vate sector and public       any terms and conditions. If private inves-  goes through with a deal, our communities
     ership at the Cumberland County Utilities   utilities there is great skepticism. When it   tors are making a bet on our future, there   should be the primary beneficiaries.
     Authority (CCUA) was exploring alterna-  comes to outright privatization, whether of   are sure to be terms and conditions baked   Finally, there may be merit to the idea
     tives with private equity firms interested in   a water or a sewer system, there’s a real fear   into the cake to ensure that their bet pays   of accessing capital (in addition to ARPA
     doing a deal with the CCUA to “monetize”   that the end result will be a private compa-  off. When you, your children and possibly   monies) that can allow the communities
     their physical assets.               ny ensuring a return on their investment by   your grandchildren are the ones who have   involved to upgrade existing infrastructure
        This was the primary focus of the   raising rates, cutting services, or some com-  to deliver on that bet, it matters a great   for current customers and expand service
     CCUA’s May 20th Board meeting. As I   bination of these. But outright privatization   deal as to how those terms and conditions   in these communities to new customers.
     understood the presentation made by   is not what we’re talking about here.  play out.                        But if this is how we decide to go, know
     Bernhardt Capital, this private equity firm   In this instance, the utility would con-  I don’t know how much money we’re   that it would be a long-term private equity
     would not own the physical assets of the   tinue to own and operate the system, but   talking about when it comes to monetizing   marriage for Bridgeton, Hopewell, Upper
     Authority but would provide an upfront   the upfront chunk of capital would mean   the physical assets of the CCUA, but it will   Deerfield, and Fairfield for many years to
     payment for a piece of the future revenue   that the investors would have a piece of   likely be tens of millions of dollars. The idea   come so we better get it right because we
     stream generated by the Authority. In pro-  the future. From an investor’s standpoint,   is that accessing this chunk of capital now   only get one bite at this apple. n
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