Wait! What?

25Jan14
$$$ clogs toilet

$$$ clogs toilet

“Chief of Staff Marc Dillon said…We are always looking at any ways to get revenue except from taxpayers.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/16572/town-explores-offseting-water-plant-cost/

Here’s a thought, Marc. Why not stop transferring $1.4 million from the Water Pollution Control Authority to the General Fund? That kinda makes the “fee” a tax wherein users subsidize everyone else. And, oh by the way, isn’t this the same mayor and Chief of Staff that raised the sewer use “fees” 37%?

But wait, there’s more!

“According to Dillon, the purpose of any possible new arrangement with the WPC facility would be to offset the town’s expenses related to the recently upgraded water treatment facility…”

Recent? Can we get a definition of “recent” please? Wasn’t that a mayor or so ago?

But if we act now we can also get a whole new entity that we cannot control at all!
“One would be leasing the facility to a private entity that would operate it.”

Sometimes what comes out of Town Hall is the same thing that goes into the WPCA.

Advertisements


46 Responses to “Wait! What?”

  1. I am laughing hysterically…… Yes, they do have other ways, ask railroad commuters who have permits at Stratford’s train station. In addition to sending their renewal fees in, they also get charged a $10 processing fee. I have friends who photograph their cars – after parking – because the rent-a-cop tickets cars if they are not parked properly within the lines. Tickets are being given out frivolously left and right and permits held hostage until the tickets are paid. So, yeah, I guess extortion is another way of getting money out of others besides taxpayers!

  2. 2 jezebel282

    PCS,

    But won’t the new parking garage solve the problem?

    On the other hand, the Town could start charging a fee for unlocking your car door instead of sending half the Fire Department for free.

  3. 3 appalledandamused

    Smells like privatization is coming soon to Stratford. Never mind, sleepy town, it’s what 75% of you didn’t bother to vote for. Privatizing everything, including who handles your toilet flushes, is the Republicans’ ultimate goal. The other two *possible* alternatives for creating revenue from the WPCA are just a distraction. Look out, PWD garbage pick up, you’re next. Soon Stratford will continue to pay high taxes for even fewer public services, while also paying “fees” to enrich the private entities that own our water and police our streets, and who don’t answer to voters at the polls when they jack up costs or change the rules (and are protected from litigation, let’s not forget that). Of course, as disengaged as Stratford voters are, we kind of get what we deserve .

  4. 4 appalledandamused

    Did I say 75%? I meant 90%, give or take.

  5. 5 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    Precisely.

    What is particularly galling is the “justification” coming from Town Hall. The Administration charges the WPCA “rent” for the land that it is on at $600,000/year. As if the WPCA could move to another location. Then there is the $300,000 the Administration takes from the WPCA just because it can and to top it off this Administration shifted another $500,000 from Public Works to the WPCA. Vioila! The WPCA had to raise its fees to break even. And, oh by the way, let’s not call it a “tax”.

    Now, I know some of this is in the weeds for most readers. But that is how a politician manipulates budgets.

    In this Town we have “Enterprise” Funds. Those are things the Town feels it can charge money for above and beyond the high tax rate. Things like Short Beach Golf Course (one of these days it will make money…), the RR parking lot, the WPCA and EMS.

    The trouble with this “plan” is that things like a round of par 3 golf and maybe parking are sort of optional things. Calling an ambulance staffed with paramedics and EMT’s and having your water go into a sewer are not very optional.

    Sadly for us, the ones responsible for this charade have a 9-1 majority on the Council and occupy the Mayor’s office. Does anyone think there will be any debate about this?

  6. Jez ~ this is just one example of the many problems that plagues Stratford and is sort of proof that there’s never any follow-through, never any progress. Empty promises and plans. They just figure people will forget. The motto: “Shhhhh, if the taxpayers haven’t mentioned it, you don’t mention it. They’ll forget all about it if they haven’t already.”

    While the garage may not be a huge issue to many, you know, as well as I do, the promises of a railroad parking garage goes back to Mark Barnhart Town Manager days. Lots of wasted hot air in all those false promises. And, when Jim Miron was mayor, I was on a volunteer committee of commuters, along with John Harkins, the GBTA, and a few others that included business owners, trying to work out the issue of the serious backlog that is the RR parking waitlist. Nothing has been done to put a dent in it. We were promised a garage, if the Stratford Star articles are still searchable we could even find the article where grant money was available for it (who knows where that money went). There were drawings, meetings with commuters that included Gene Colonese from Hartford. I haven’t commuted since 2009, so this is going back before that. There were plans, drawings, etc. The next step was to take the property needed. That’s been done, but now, it’s not going to be a garage, it’s just additional blacktop spaces (and not enough to even dent the waitlist). The RR department is completely mismanaged, as is other Town departments.

    How many years later and there’s still no accountability, still no transparency, still no progress or honest leadership.

  7. 7 jezebel282

    PCS,

    I thought you might remember the phantom parking garage. As an update, the situation has only gotten worse since you stopped commuting. In fact, the limited access to the available spots clogs Main Street from West Broad Street to Barnum Avenue every day. This, of course, delays Fire & EMS response times. I’ve watched fire trucks try to get through the underpass when the commuters and other traffic simply have nowhere to go.

    In the meantime, operating surpluses from parking fees have dropped to a paltry $132K last year (which did not stop the Town from transferring $100K of that to the General Fund). This isn’t as bad as the Golf Course at Short Beach which lost $122K last year.

    Selling the WPCA for a quick cash infusion boggles the mind.

  8. I have very good friends who are still commuters. When I commuted, I made a great network of friends and they are still around. The parking situation is horrendous and the way it’s managed even more horrible!

  9. Here is the DOT report about the Stratford Railroad Station….. I haven’t forgotten.

    http://www.ct.gov/dot/lib/dot/documents/dpt/Stratford_Individual_Station_Report.pdf

  10. I traded a drive-to commuting job in Norwalk for one in Stamford where I’d have to take the train about 4 months ago, and the parking in Stratford has been the singular biggest point of stress in my transition. The $5 daily spots are hit-or-miss by the time I get to the station and there is no place to legally park nearby.

    I’m about 6 years away from getting a permit unless I want to pay $1000/year for “Lot K.” My solution has been to work at home, drive to Stamford or have someone drive me to and from the station and I know I am not the only commuter frustrated by this.

    I remember the discussions about the garage years ago, and I thought I recalled Miron saying that the town would outgrow it almost as soon as it was built. He told me he wanted a scalable solution, like the ability to add levels and build up as needed (within reason).

    There’s got to be someone with an empty lot in town who would sell spaces to commuters at a reasonable price and invest in a shuttle back and forth to the station. Seems like a real opportunity if it’s managed well. That person could be a hero.

  11. 11 jezebel282

    Robyn,

    “if it’s managed well”
    That’s just crazy talk.

    After all, you’ve got that giant closed Bally’s facility with all those empty parking spaces just south of the tracks. A little excavating from the existing daily parking and you would have access to an enormous amount of daily parking capacity. The existing daily parking could become permit parking. A couple of extended electric golf carts and you have a shuttle service. Maybe even a couple of vans.

    But that would mean less congestion on Main Street given the new access from the shopping center, increased business for the shops there (“Honey, how about picking up a pizza, Chinese food or McDonald’s for dinner?”) and more revenue for the Town.

    That kind of thinking would be for the benefit of residents and commuters, not a developer, real estate attorney or consultants.

    You might as well run the WPCA as a service to taxpayers instead of a cash machine for the Administration.

  12. 12 jezebel282

    And then there is the RTC Chairman’s response:

    “Of the several claims that were made not one of them is based in any type of reality.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/17151/paul-and-masters-accusations-unfounded-and-shameful/

    Quite a statement from Mr. DeCilio. Unfortunately, he does not dispute any of the reality that has been stated. $500,000 has been transferred from Public Works’ budget to the WPCA budget, $600,000 in “rent” is being charged to the WPCA by the Town and $300,000 is simply taken from The WPCA and transferred to the Town’s General Fund. That’s $1.4 MILLION that the WPCA lost when someone clicked “print”. All of this has been done by the current Administration (the one that Lou helped elected).

    Perhaps Mr. DeCilio would like to dispute these realities at some point?

  13. 13 jezebel282

    Update;

    And there is yet more from RTC Chairman Lou DeCilio in an attempt to justify higher user fees and the privatization of the WPCA (sewer plant).

    “Connecticut’s own Mark Twain once said “It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear a fool than open it and remove all doubt”. http://www.stratfordstar.com/18078/pauls-implication-if-not-direct-statement/

    Actually, Mark Twain never said that. But moving on….

    Apparently, Mr. Decilio simply cannot resist personal and snarky comments about anyone who is not a member of the RTC. “…the reason why Bank of America no longer wanted his services and why Stratford made the right choice last November.” This, of course, begs the question. What must be on your resume in order to be “hired” as a Registrar of Voters? But again, let’s keep going…

    “He may have not directly used the word “poison,””
    That’s correct. Nowhere did Mr. Paul use the word “poison”.

    “We are talking semantics and innuendo.”
    Of course we are, Mr. Decilio. You just did.

    “The current administration is exploring potential savings,”
    OK…let’s pause here. Potential “savings” do not mean raising sewer use fees by 37%. That is exactly what the Harkins Administration did. We shudder to think how much more “savings” we can afford. It has not be proven how sale of the WPCA to a corporate entity would result in “savings” to Stratford residents and businesses.

    “they (the Harkins Administration) are doing what we would hope any of our elected officials would do in an effort to keep taxes down.”
    Changing the name of a tax to a “fee” is not the same as “keeping taxes down”. Let’s review. The Harkins Administration arbitrarily subtracted $1.4 MILLION in cash and services from the WPCA to the Town’s General Fund. That, of course, caused a $1.4 MILLION shortfall in the WPCA budget. OMG! The WPCA needs to raise fees! That is the way The Harkins Administration kept taxes down.

    “Unfortunately Joe Paul can’t seem to get over the fact he lost the election and isn’t involved in this process.”
    It seems, Mr. Decilio just can’t resist the random personal attack. Why would a Stratford taxpayer and resident want to be involved in the process of selling off a multimillion dollar asset of the Town? Maybe because it is taxpayer money we are talking about? After all, we are not talking about John Harkins garage sale are we? This would not be a private sale. The WPCA is (currently) owned by the residents and taxpayers of Stratford, not just a few employees in Town Hall. By the way, thank you Mr. Paul for at least asking the questions.

    “Next time he should work harder to earn the trust of the voters by not talking out of both sides of his mouth.”
    You know, Mr. Decilio, people who live in glass houses…oh never mind.

    It occurs to me that someone should mention to Mr. Decilio that it is better to keep your mouth shut and appear a fool than open it and remove all doubt.

  14. 14 appalledandamused

    Brilliant ^^

    It’s amazing to me how little the townspeople of Stratford seem to care about the concept of selling the WPCA. Good for Paul for bringing it up (again). What is needed is a sledgehammer, a bull horn, and as a last resort a threat to close a school to get their attention.

    If DeCilio is on the attack, you know that Joe Paul has hit a nerve.

    Wake up, Stratford, for cripes sake.

  15. 15 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    “It’s amazing to me how little the townspeople of Stratford seem to care”

    Even in the best of times voters tend to ignore local politics. Municipal budgets put most people to sleep. (Even George Mulligan doesn’t read the budget). This is also true when you have someone as destructive as Miron in charge as well.

    It remains, however, that nothing effects your monthly mortgage or rent payment more than your municipal budget. Let’s make no mistake, this year’s budget which is currently being concocted will have quite a few requests for even higher mortgage and rent payments. You can be sure that Police, Fire, Public Works and the Board of Education will want more money for pretty much the same “stuff” we have now. And they will probably get whatever they want. Why? Because the voters of Stratford have decided that they want no public discussion of the budget. They voted for a 9-1 Republican majority on the Council. Whatever budget John Harkins proposes will pass. And the vote will be 9-1. Harkins will face no consequence for at least four years and by then most voters will have forgotten this budget.

    When Harkins proposes selling the WPCA (sewer plant) to some cobbled together corporation that will pass too. And the vote will be 9-1. Most residents won’t even be aware it had been sold until they start getting monthly bills from whatever corporation owns the WPCA.

    Going to Council meetings is a complete waste of time. 9 out of 10 Councilmen know that the only reason they are there is to vote for whatever Harkins proposes.

    It is only through free and open forums like this one that voters can express their displeasure….and they do very little of that either.

  16. 16 appalledandamused

    Thanks for acknowledging here that Jason Santi is a Republican. I haven’t noticed if he switched parties yet, but he might as well make it official.

  17. 17 mikereynolds

    Oh please. Santi is as much a Republican as Jez is.

    If the Democrats had a majority on the Town Council he’d be voting with Democrats.

  18. 18 jezebel282

    Mike,

    Not that I want to get into this personality dispute, but I think Matt Catalano (R, 3rd or is it 2nd?) voted in opposition to Harkins more often than Mr. Santi. In fact, I can’t recall a single “no” vote Mr. Santi cast in his four years in office.

    The actual point being is that there has not been and probably won’t be any discussion whatsoever about the $192+ million that is levied upon the residents and businesses of Stratford. And that is truly a shame.

  19. 19 jezebel282

    Going once, going twice…Sold to the first bidder!

    “Town Hall eyes sale of waste treatment plant
    John Burgeson
    Updated 5:13 pm, Saturday, March 15, 2014
    STRATFORD — With a 5.7 percent tax increase likely for the coming fiscal year, the administration of Mayor John Harkins is considering a sale of the town’s waste treatment plant as a way to subtract from that figure. http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Town-Hall-eyes-sale-of-waste-treatment-plant-5320354.php

    “One-family households pay an annual sewer use fee of $375.”
    Err…not in 2014-2015. Harkins wants to raise it again to $425. Another 14% increase.

    Why, you might ask, such a large increase when the published budget only calls for a 3.8% increase in operating expense? If you read the budget, you will find a line item called “Pension Fund”. This line item which was $432,782 last year will be $1,015,942 in the new budget! Harkins is apparently loading up the WPCA with $1,983,160 in expenses that are unrelated to the WPCA.

    What is going on here?

  20. 20 appalledandamused

    What better way to rebuff the argument that privatizing the WPCA will burden us with unfettered increases to our sewer bill than to beat the private stakeholders to the punch with an unchallenged GOP-controlled town government raising the stakes over the last 3 years? They’ve been prepping a sleepy constituency for the sale. Hate the 30% increases? Blame government and roll out the red carpet for the private savior. The fact that private entities will surely come in and raise the rates is met with a collective sigh and probably our buddy Lou helping us to see how our own shiftless government screwed us over – and now privatizing the water plant (all hail the free market) will be our quick fix. Except hold on a minute: we’re told by Harkins that most of the $ will go to pension obligation – shiftless public workers being on the taxpayers’ dime and more fuel for the GOP March to cultivate hate for the government the work so hard to control.

  21. 21 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    Here’s the problem I have with your comment. The Republican Town Committee has no connection at all to the Republican National Committee or to Republicans in general. Oh, to be sure, Harkins has a general disgust for any union member. He’s proud of it too.

    Suddenly, the most dire problem is the pension fund. The deal was that employees would contribute 9% of their gross, the Town would match that and everything would be OK…except the Town never did. Now all of these employees that will be entitled to their pensions are still (and always have been) contributing their 9%. The problem got made a little worse when Harkins shifted new employees to 401K’s. There was no longer any 9% contributions by anyone and the pension fund is missing this revenue. Who makes up that difference? Hint: it rhymes with “you and me”.

    Selling the WPCA falls under the category of quick fix. I am sure Harkins believes he will get a quick infusion of enough cash to make the pension problem go away plus whatever legal fees, commissions and consulting fees other members of the RTC can get. At least until Sikorsky moves the last piece of equipment to Florida. Who will be left holding the bag on this one? Again, it rhymes with “you and me”.

    The problem here is that Harkins is inflicting pain on the taxpayer to provide voter “incentive”. The dilemma is that it is hard to make the numbers up and then publish them.

    In the WPCA instance, the budget lists 16 employees with a payroll of $1,011,040. Oh well…it is what it is. But a few lines down, Harkins lists a pension fund contribution of $1,015,942. Wait a minute! That means the “pension fund” is greater than the payroll! How can that be? Must be a mistake, right? Unfortunately for us, our sewer use “fee” is based on these numbers and our non-deductible “fee” is going up to $425 as a result.

    Harkins has already loaded up the WPCA budget with $600,000 in “rent”, $300,000 in a straight transfer to the General Fund and transferred $500,000 from the Public Works budget to the WPCA. This is why our Sewer Use “Fee” went up 37% the first time.

    One has to wonder how our sewer use “fee” is not a tax when such a large portion of the “fee” funds Town operations and Town pension funds? One answer is that not a single non-union Harkins appointee will say a word. Not with the whopping raises Harkins is giving them. Neither will the 9-1 Republican Town Committee Council.

    So who is left to stand for the poor taxpayer? Not a councilman that’s for sure. Once again, it rhymes with “you and me”.

  22. 22 1cyclops

    $425 SEWER FEE IS CRIMINAL!

  23. 23 appalledandamused

    I beg to differ – the RTC is every bit the Republican party and RNC. How is it not? Privatization. Voter disenfranchisement via redistricting and piling on the union workers — all Republican games.

    They have been building a case against the public service pensioners and now they’re putting in the news that selling off the WPCA will end up paying off the pension obligation (that’s been ignored as you kindly point out). I imagine the goal is to wake the ire of citizens who will blame the town workers for sucking the town dry. What would be entertaining is if they claimed the profits would go to the Theater. Let the garment-rending commence!

  24. 24 stfdprofessor1

    “now they’re putting in the news that selling off the WPCA will end up paying off the pension obligation”…wait, isnt that why they just bonded like a ka-jilion dollars- to pay off the pension obligation??? And am I mistaken or didnt those lying incompetents say “the Town is now out of the pension business” before the last election?

    I dont suppose any of this is due to the way they mismanage our public funds.

    Come on “Mr Mayor”, do you REALLY need two aides and a CAO forchristsake??? A single Town Manager did a better job than you four BAFOONS at far less than one quarter the cost.

    And WHAT ABOUT THESE LUDACRIS RAISES “MR. MAYOR”???:

    (1) ROV from 1.6 Positions to 2.0 from $64,812to$94,000+$29,188=+45%

    (2) CAO from $88,000 to$113,000+$25,000=+28.41%

    (3) Econ Dev Dir from$90,000 to $113,000 =+23,000 or +25.55%

    (4) Finance Dir from$93,375 to $113,000=$19,625=+21.02%

    (5) HR Director from$96,863 to$113,000=$16,137=+16.66%

    (6) Town Clerk from$72,000 to$88,000=$16,000=+22.22%

    (7) Health Director from $88,150 to$103,00=+$14,850=+16.84%increase

    (8) Deputy Fire Chief from $80,000 to$93,000=+$13,000=+16.25%increase

    (9) Operations Coord from $53,000 to$65,000=+12,000=+22.64%increase

    (10) Assts.to Mayor (2) from $51,562.50 each to$62,550each+$19,987ea +21.3%increase.

    (11)HR Generalists (2) $58,000 to$64,480ea=+$6,480ea=+11.17%ea

    (12)HR Generalist(Jr) $32,832 to$45,400=+$12,568=+38.28%

    (13)Fire Chief $100,000 to$109,000=+$9,000=+9%

    (14) Police Chief $100,000 to$109,000=+$9,000=+9%

    (15) Dep Police Chief $96,000 to$104,760=+8,760=+9%

    THEN YOU HAVE THE GAULL to request a 5+% tax raise with the sewer use hike and say its because of the pensions you already said you fixed before the election???

    Mr. Mayor, how bout doing us all a favor and get a real job somewhere. After almost 20 years of being on the public “dole” in one way or another dont you think its FINALLY time FOR YOU to get out there and make it on your own instead of sponging off of us (AND LYING TO US WHILE YOU DO IT)???

  25. 25 stfdprofessor1

    Im starting to realize the Mr. Mulligan was the second craziest candidate to run for mayor last november.

  26. 26 stfdprofessor1

    I wonder how the labor unions are going to react when they see the lowest percentage raise for non union employees was 9% and the highest was 45%. Even if you throw out the lows and the high its an average 20% pay increase across the board. I’m sure those “greedy union thugs” will settle for a mere 3% or under.

    I certainly hope there is a glimmer of sanity on behalf of the town clowncil…BUT I DOUBT IT. I predict a split vote with those not running again voting for this lunacy and those able to run again voting against it JUST TO POSTURE.

  27. 27 jezebel282

    Prof,

    Aside from Harkins’ usual anti-union stance, we have the glaring item in the WPCA (Sewer Plant) budget.

    Of course I am talking about the $1+ million ($1,015,942) line item for “pension fund”. There are so many things that are wrong with this “method” of accounting on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin.

    This first place we can begin is with the Fund itself. No other Enterprise Fund such as the Short Beach Golf Course, Dog Fund, Harbor Fund, Railroad Station Fund or Emergency Medical Services have a “Pension Fund” line item. Why? Because these operations are supposed to generate operating profits separate from normal Town operations and such “profits” are then transferred to the General Fund so that all taxpayers benefit. Being an Enterprise Fund is what makes it illegal for taxpayers to deduct this expense from their Federal and State returns. It is called a “fee”.

    The second thing we can examine is the amount. As we have previously stated, $1,015,942 is higher than the WPCA payroll. Let’s call it…”uncommon”… for a pension fund to be higher than a payroll.

    Without this $1,015,942 the operating expenses of the WPCA would actually be less than last year requiring a rate reduction.

    It is not the intent of the Enterprise Funds to finance specific Town operating or debt expenses. To do so would eliminate the Fund’s status as an enterprise and convert it to a normal Town operation who’s revenue would (rightly) be called a “tax”. We are not sure whether our highly paid Finance Director (“Don’t worry about it. The budget is all theory anyway”.) thought up this scheme to bury the expense and also raise fees as Harkins wants or whether it was Harkins himself. Either way, this is highly unethical and maybe illegal.

    No matter what, $1,015,942 is a ridiculous amount to justify for 16 employees. Someone has some ‘splaining to do.

  28. 28 jezebel282

    Subject: Protect Stratford’s water treatment plant

    Hi,

    When accounted properly, our water treatment plant adds money to the town’s bottom line. If sold, studies show that private sewer operators typically raise rates by 63% and profits to shareholders will be the goal. Clean water is a responsibility that should be handled by our elected representatives, not executives who are in no way accountable to us.

    That’s why I signed a petition to John A. Harkins, Mayor, Stratford, CT and Jospeh Kubic, Town Council Chair, Stratford, CT, which says:

    “Do not sell our award-winning, efficient water treatment plant to a private corporation motivated solely by profit.”

    Will you sign this petition? Click here:

    http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/protect-stratfords-water?source=s.em.cp&r_by=7745772

    Hey, you never know what a politician listens too.

  29. 29 jezebel282

    Update:

    It is not so hard to justify expenses that actually exist. It is really hard to justify expenses that do not. Both Dillon and Nocera (Harkins’ CAO and Chief of Staff) took a crack at it, but again came up woefully short. http://www.stratfordstar.com/21022/ins-and-outs-of-sewer-fees-water-treatment-budget/

    “the WPC’s portion of the 2013 townwide $160-million pension obligation bond.”

    Wait. What? Harkins’ is using sewer use fees to pay off Townwide expenses? Isn’t that supposed to be called a “tax” and not a “fee”? The pension burden falls upon only those who have sewer hook ups and residents with septic systems are untaxed? Or should we say “un-fee’d”? And did anyone at the WPCA Board agree to this levy?

    “WPC and EMS generate revenues and are “on town property that could otherwise be utilized, and [they] are therefore assessed an annual rental fee based on acreage,” said the administrative officer.”

    So how much “rent” does the BOE, Animal Shelter, RR Parking Lot, and Short Beach Golf Course pay? How much is their pension contribution? They are, after all, on Town property that could otherwise be utilized. In fact, let’s get a tape measure and add up the new “revenue”. How do politicians think this way? The only revenue the WPCA receives are from Stratford taxpayers. How is this not a tax again?

    “Details of the revenue that comes from other municipalities was not immediately available”

    No surprise there.

    So we are left with a gobbledigook explanation. We pay a fee for sewer usage in a fairly new plant that is so efficient it receives energy credits (no line item for that), no mention of the grants that were applied to the $60 million construction cost either, there is a mortgage payment of approx $3 million/year principal and interest with 14 years left. At the end of this fairytale we are still inexplicably left with $2.4 million in non-related WPCA expenses.

    So what? Without these non-related expenses, the cost of operations would be $8.3 million which would call for a 20% REDUCTION in fees. That’s what.

  30. 30 Rockannand

    “So we are left with a gobbledigook explanation.” I think its spelled gobbledygook. More like Stratford political highjinks. They actually believe there own voodoo economic BS explanations for why they do what they do without realizing it still makes no sense. I think if we keep asking the same questions there heads will just explode and then we can get some people in place that actually know how to manage big numbers and large budgets.

  31. 31 jezebel282

    Rock,

    Here is the problem with the gobbledygook (sic), nowhere does it say that sewer use fees may be used for townwide obligations. In fact it states clearly in the Town’s own regulations that:

    Chapter 172

    Paragraph 172-92 C

    “Sewer use charges shall be collected in accordance with the regulations and procedures as promulgated by the WPCA and shall be paid to the Tax Collector and deposited by the Town Finance Director in a special account, separate from other Town funds, designated the “Wastewater Operating Fund.” This fund shall be used for operation, maintenance, administration, replacement and expansion of the sewerage system and for payment of principle and interest on bonds and notes of the Town issued for construction of the sewerage system.”
    http://www.ecode360.com/8176131

    But wait. It gets worse. According to the Connecticut General Statutes, use of Sewer Fees for any purpose other than connection to or operation of the sewerage system is prohibited.

    “Sec. 7-267. Use of funds. All benefit assessments and charges for connection with or use of the sewerage system, whether pledged for payment of bonds or notes or otherwise, shall be kept separate from other funds of the municipality and shall be used for the sewerage system, including the payment of debt incurred for the sewerage system and interest thereon, and for no other purpose.http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap103.htm#Sec7-267.htm

    The CGS explicitly prohibits the use of sewer use fees for payment of townwide obligations like a pension fund, placement in the General Fund, subsidizing Public Works or probably “land use”.

    Mayor Harkins and the WPCA have clearly been in violation of Town Code AND Connecticut Statute. And we have suffered. At least according to the published budget and the printed statements of his Chief Administrative Officer and Chief of Staff. In fact, the ridiculous argument that other municipalities might pay a higher rate and our rate should be “competitive” is equally prohibited.

    The question that remains is what is the punishment for a mayor and members of the WPCA who violate Town Code and State Statute? Maybe we should take the penalty out of the Town Attorneys compensation since a Town Attorney should clearly have known this. It only took minutes for a non-professional to figure this one out.

  32. 32 Rockannand

    YOU … YOU … YOU GOTTA GIFT!!!

  33. 33 jezebel282

    A gift? Most of the time it seems like a curse.

  34. 34 1cyclops

    I hope this petition has an impact. If not, we are doomed.

  35. 35 jezebel282

    Update:

    “Connor explained that the $4.5 million in revenue expected to come from property sales will actually be covered by cash that is on hand now at the Water Pollution Control Authority. “We will fill that hole” with the WPCA cash reserve in case properties do not sell and generate the $4.5 million.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/21272/expanded-report-may-14-council-increases-spending-6-overall-tax-rate-goes-up-2-8/

    Well that certainly makes it much easier for whatever State Attorney who wants to file charges against Connor. Nothing like a printed confession to make a case: “Sec. 7-267. Use of funds. All benefit assessments and charges for connection with or use of the sewerage system, whether pledged for payment of bonds or notes or otherwise, shall be kept separate from other funds of the municipality and shall be used for the sewerage system, including the payment of debt incurred for the sewerage system and interest thereon, and for no other purpose.http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap103.htm#Sec7-267.htm

    Does anyone want to tell Connor he just confessed to violating a State Statute and implicated the other 6 Council members, the mayor and his staff?

  36. 36 jezebel282

    In case any of our readers are wondering or would like to take some initiative, please feel free to copy the above post and send it to:

    attorney.general@ct.gov

    Or

    George Jepsen
    Office Of The Attorney General
    55 Elm St.,
    Hartford 06106
    (860) 808-5318

  37. 37 ronmoreau

    “Connor explained… ‘We will fill that hole” with the WPCA cash reserve in case properties do not sell and generate the $4.5 million’.”

    If they can cover ‘the hole’ with WPCA cash reserve, how much money is in the WPCA slush fund? And why are they raising the sewer use fees if they have all that cash?

  38. 38 jezebel282

    Ron,

    “how much money is in the WPCA slush fund?”

    You’ll have to guess because you won’t find any “cash reserve” number anywhere in the WPCA budget. However according to Councilman Connor there must be enough to cover at least $4.5 million.

    “And why are they raising the sewer use fees”

    See: Down the Sewer https://stratfordcharter.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/down-the-sewer/

  39. 39 Rockannand

    “In case any of our readers are wondering or would like to take some initiative, please feel free to copy the above post and send it to:
    attorney.general@ct.gov

    Done. Waiting for response

  40. 40 jezebel282

    Rock,

    While you’re at it, ask them if they have any forensic auditors that are not real busy.

  41. 41 1cyclops

    Rock,
    This is so serious; you need to make a phone call and get someone on the phone. This is bad.

  42. 42 Rockannand

    “While you’re at it, ask them if they have any forensic auditors that are not real busy.”

    I had a proctologist in mind. More revealing.

  43. 43 jezebel282

    Update:

    “Read the budget and ask what the $1.4 million in monies going between WPCA and General Fund is about.” https://www.facebook.com/MoveStratford

    Actually that is a little off. There is the $500,000 Harkins moved from the PW budget to the WPCA, the $600,000 “land use” fee, the $300,000 straight transfer to the General fund and the $1,000,015 pension fund item. That would make it $2,400,000 of irrelevant expense charged to the WPCA.

    But hey. What’s a million dollars in taxpayer money?

  44. 44 jezebel282

    Update:

    The Star continues to throw softballs at Town Hall in an attempt to justify the financial shenanigans at the WPCA. http://www.stratfordstar.com/23238/ins-and-outs-of-water-pollution-control/

    We shall attempt to force a bit of clarity on the issue despite these attempts.

    “Q. What is the $560,000 Contractual Services line of the expense budget for?”

    “Contractual services” is what used to be in the Public Works Budget but that actually effected taxes. To make it a “fee” Public Works employee labor is now called “contractual services”. This expense went from approximately $79,000 in 2012 to a whopping $604,000 in 2013.

    “Q. Where in the town budget documents is the WPCA cash reserve fund (estimated at over $5 million) shown?”

    The short answer here is “nowhere”. To be sure, there is one (and only one) mention of the cash reserve in the Town’s annual audit report from last year (June 2013). It is one reference in a 126 page report. It neglects to mention the source of the cash. You know that the “source” is your wallet, right?

    “Q. Why might it be advisable for the town to sell the land on which WPC facilities sit?”

    This may be our favorite short answer: “A. It makes fiscal sense for the WPCA to own, rather than rent, the property it sits on.” To whom? Why?

    “Q. What would be the benefit to the town to no longer be in the business of running WPC? Of being responsible for pipes, connections, etc.”

    “A. In general terms, the costs of maintaining / replacing infrastructure and the like would be shifted to a separate entity (regional / private).” For some reason Mr. Nocera leaves out revenue from this statement as if it doesn’t exist.

    “Ultimately this would result in less of a burden on ratepayers / residents.”
    The way Harkins has been artificially raising the fees, this might actually be true. However, Mr. Nocera has no idea what another entity would do. Nor do we.

    Let us remember that State statute prohibits the use of WPCA funds for any other purpose than bond, interest and operating expense. Selling the Town owned land that the Town run WPCA sits on to the WPCA is simply a legal maneuver to extract $5.2 million from the WPCA (that we having been paying for) and transferring it to the General Fund.

    When this little farce is completed, will our taxes and fees diminish? Not a chance. On the other hand, if the WPCA gets sold to some private corporation will our “fees” go up? More than likely. No Public Utilities Regulatory Authority will prevent that. Just look at your Electric or Gas bill.

    Rather than be honest with constituents about the use of our money, the Harkins administration has chosen this route instead.

  45. 45 appalledandamused

    How sad for Stratford, but you know what? Virtually everyone I talk to about this in town (residents/taxpayers) just shrug and change the subject. You get what you vote for. In this case, we get what most of Stratford didn’t bother to vote for, or against. How do you raise awareness on this issue? Raising taxes (or “fees”) only seems to compel townsfolk to grumble, cough and turn over to resume sleeping. Maybe we need to throw a “school closing” sign on the WPCA plant…

  46. 46 jezebel282

    Decades of Mirons, Buturlas, Aldriches, Willingers, Dunns, Knotts and assorted other “contributors” will make you crazy or cause you to shrug your shoulders and just hope they don’t abuse you too badly.

    On the other hand, we always like to know the identity of the perpetrators.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: