its inception in 1988, the Authority has undertaken a broad array of
important, and sometimes ground breaking, initiatives. We rebuilt a major wastewater treatment plant, one of the first in New Jersey to produce fertilizers for farms and gardens. We
were the first wastewater authority in the State to privatize our operations,
providing better service, more cost-effectively to our service area.
Our abililty to bring into, and maintain, compliance with EPA clean water mandates resulted in the lifting of a federal sewer ban in 1994, enabling a virtual economic renaissance of our Hudson River waterfronts. We completed in 1996 New Jersey's first major regionalization of wastewater systems when we acquired the West New York treatment plant and collection system, quickly bringing that failing system into environmental compliance.
In recent years, we have completely rehabilitated our aged collection system, replacing most of the Civil War era wooden sewer lines throughout our system. We have begun to address the persistent, 200 year-old flooding problems in Hoboken which cause major street inundations during heavy rain events in areas of the city that are below sea level.
At the same time, we strive to operate our business as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Over the last decade, our staff costs, as a percentage of revenue, remain among the lowest in the State, between 1.7 and 2.0 percent. The privitization of our operations, which enable the Authority to take advantage of international best practices and economies of scale, has increased efficiency and lowered costs, while maintaining our over-riding commitment to the environment.
The Authority's most significant challenge is managing our system, with all its capital needs and environmental requirements, in the face of minimal State and Federal financial support. Consequently, debt management and fiscal acumen are key elements to the financial success of the organization. We are keenly aware that the lion's share of the expense of operating our systems falls upon our ratepayers. This recognition drives our commitment to running a lean, focused business.
In the end, the Authority's Board of Commissioners, staff, and private operators are well aware of our responsibilities to our many stakeholders and their interests: our customers and ratepayers, who expect us to operate an efficient and cost-effective business; our communities, that expect us to continue to protect the environment of the Hudson River; our bondholders, who have invested in a well-run and maintained system; and our employees, upon whom our success ultimately depends.
– Dr. Richard Wolff,