By KATHY CHANG
MILLTOWN — As the new electric substation nears completion, borough officials are seeking a superintendent to be in charge of the new substation and utility department.
The proposed salary for the superintendent of Municipal Utilities is estimated between $80,000 and $90,000. Borough officials introduced an ordinance at a meeting on Jan. 11 that included the fixed salaries and wages of various borough employees from the period of 2015 to 2018.
Councilman Randy Farkas questioned the need for the position, calling it a duplication of personnel the borough already has. The council had already approved the position at a meeting in December.
Councilman Jerry Guthlein said the borough is doing what it can with the personnel that it has; however, he does not believe they are capable of handling their duties in addition to the substation.
Guthlein said the proposed position came out of a discussion with the Electric Advisory Committee. He said the position will be advertised and candidates will be interviewed.
The new facility is valued at $14 million and includes a 4,500-square-foot switchgear building, three utility transformers and a 26-kilovolt yard for dual utility power fees from PSE&G.
In 2013, the borough purchased the Schwendeman log cabin property adjacent to Albert Avenue and Mill Pond Park for the purpose of a land swap with Middlesex County for property adjacent to Borough Hall on Washington Avenue. The next year, the borough acquired the 1.3 acres from the county for the new substation.
The use of the property on Washington Avenue allowed for the new substation to be built on higher ground, outside of the flood plain, according to the New Jersey State House Commission, which had jurisdiction over the land swap.
In exchange, Milltown will convey the former Schwendeman property — 2.6 acres on Kuhlthau Avenue — to Middlesex County.
The aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 led borough officials on a journey to move the electrical substation to higher ground.
Irene brought torrential rains in August 2011 that overflowed area waterways, flooding nearby streets as well as the borough’s electric substation, resulting in a nearly week-long power outage. Borough officials shut down the substation in preparation for the floodwaters, which reportedly rose halfway up the transformers.
Officials and contracted electricians then spent five days drying and repairing the substation before restoring power.
Milltown is one of eight municipalities in the state that operates an electric utility for the benefit of its residents and businesses.
In September 2014, borough officials awarded a contract for the construction of a new electric substation.
Borough officials entered an agreement with Welsbach Electric Corp. for the Borough Electric Utility Flood Mitigation project, which includes the construction of a new electric substation for a sum not to exceed $12,368,122.