In response to a public outcry for greater accountability, two local legislators have authored a bill that would force the Camden-Wyoming Sewer and Water Authority to hand over documents and records according to the Freedom of Information Act. Senate Bill 36, introduced by Sen. Brian Bushweller and cosponsored by Rep. Don Blakey, passed the Senate unanimously March 24.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SO FAR
Over the last several months, growing concern among CWSWA customers about their rates, water quality and the financial management of the authority drew the attention of Bushweller and Blakey. At a public meeting last month, CWSWA Chairman Mark Dyer dismissed or failed to adequately address many questions from citizens — including allegations that the authority made personal loans to employees. Bushweller and Blakey asked for specific reasons why CWSWA rates are the second highest in the state for a public water company, but Dyer said the authority would not release its financials or salary information to the public. In consultation with the Attorney General’s Office, the legislators learned that the CWSWA is likely not covered by the Freedom of Information Act and therefore not required to make its records public. In light of the AG’s opinion, Bushweller and Blakey crafted a narrowly focused bill that applies only to the CWSWA.
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The bill faced no opposition in the Senate and will likely sail through the House and land on the governor’s desk in the coming weeks. If the bill becomes law, several local residents and elected officials from each town are planning to request documents.
Reached by phone, Dyer said he had no comment on SB 36 and then hung up on a reporter.
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