Down the Sewer

15May14
Town of Stratford

Town of Stratford

Stratford to see 2.8 percent tax increase
John Burgeson
Updated 10:47 pm, Wednesday, May 14, 2014

“The parcel with the biggest price tag is 105 Beacon Point Road, adjacent to the Birdseye Street boat ramp. The town hopes to sell it for $5.6 million.” http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Stratford-to-see-2-8-percent-tax-increase-5478426.php

For those readers who are unfamiliar with 105 Beacon Point Road, that is the address of the WPCA (sewer plant). To be honest, we have resisted the abundant rumors that Harkins wanted to sell off the WPCA (Sewer Plant) for quick cash. We had believed that nobody could be that brazen or, well, dumb. But, sadly, we were wrong.

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45 Responses to “Down the Sewer”

  1. 1 jezebel282

    Can Harkins really do this? Yes. Yes he can. In fact, he can sell the whole thing for whatever he wants. At the worst case he would only need “yes” votes from seven of his Republican Council members. As we have seen with the budget vote, that’s pretty easy to do.

  2. 2 1cyclops

    Holy crap!

  3. 3 jezebel282

    Cyclops,

    Precisely.

  4. 4 appalledandamused

    Geez whiz, whatta surprise!

    Judging the Stratford Star’s take on things Stratford residents have been HEARD! http://www.stratfordstar.com/21320/residents-voices-affected-outcome/

  5. 5 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    Sometimes I truly wonder what Town Mr. Reilly reports on.

    The Council completely ignored the protests of taxpayers by giving Harkins even more than he asked for. Oh sure, some of the ridiculously high raises were scaled back…a bit. But not a single department’s budget was cut by a dime. (One proposed additional position was rejected).

    Apparently the Council wholeheartedly approves of the use of illegal funds from the WPCA. In fact, they are counting on it. They fully endorsed the quick cash schemes of selling off Town property. The only question here is which will be sold first, the WPCA or Center School? The BOE budget is still unreadable and no one, not even BOE members, have any idea how the BOE funds will be spent.

    Incredibly, we have Council members admitting in print to excess cash at the WPCA and the illegal use of it.

    The shenanigans are worse than we can recall in decades. What is most disturbing is that the Harkins Administration and the Council (including the lone Democrat) think we are too ignorant to notice. Maybe they are right?

  6. 6 Rockannand

    Not me. Mr. Burgeson got my quote in there. While Greg was more interested in Connor throwing Matt under the bus over missing the vote. Mat was driving back from Tennessee and got delayed on 95. So the vote would have been 7-3. big deal. They had already worked out what they were going to vote on last week. So everyone knew what they would be voting on before Monday. And they knew they already had the vote.

    Connor called me liar for saying that DeCilio would be getting full benefits as an upgrade. I did not know that part-time people already got full benefits. Just like they do in private sector … NOT. Another giveaway that the good citizens of Stratford never get unless they re on the STratford dole. He also took umbrage to my singling out Lou for the 100+% increase while making no mention of Rick Marcone. Give me a break – Connor did not make his proposal back in March for that raise to help Rick. Also Rick has not gone all over town slamming citizens and making a personal attacks on people who raise questions and opposition to what’s going on.

    Back in January, this blog started discussing that the WPCA was going to be shopped to raise short-term cash. Terry Masters and Joe Paul both raised the issue in letters to the editor and through advertising by Terry’s org FOR Stratford in Jan/Feb.

    DeCilio slammed them both with personal attacks in follow up letters.
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/17151/paul-and-masters-accusations-unfounded-and-shameful/

    I defend them and call out the lack of civility of DeCilio the end of April
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/19954/here-is-whats-wrong-with-stratford-politics/

    DeCilio slams me denying everything i called him out for:
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/20218/different-definitions-for-who-are-good-people/

    Then the town votes the budget on 5/12 and everything reported here, in the Post and Star since January turns out to be true.

    So Councilman Sports Complex (aka Conners), THAT is why i single out the bully of Town Hall for special mention for the money grab and payoff that YOU and Harkins orchestrated. So you and your partner in crime are the ones “who lied”. Good thing i did not stay to hear you say what you said Monday night because I would have responded on the spot. You think we are doing this campaign (petition and letter writing) for $#IT$ and giggles? Think again. The best is yet to come Councilman.

  7. 7 1cyclops

    Rock,

    – Connor did not make his proposal back in March for that raise to help Rick.
    If he could have excluded Rick, he would have. But he is precluded from doing so by statute. Funny, this is one statute they abide by.

  8. 8 appalledandamused

    Still trying to figure out why the lone Dem voted for the budget. The vote was in the bag before Monday, they knew they had 7 and over the hump with or without Matt. Dempsey’s following his dad’s re-election strategy, and Santi either didn’t get funds for his school or looking at one last attempt to prove he’s not a lockstep Republican. Weird times in Stratford. When the WPCA gets sold, watch out for 33% increases (although Harkins saved them that trouble), cutting corners at ratepayers’ expense, lack of accountability and transparency, problematic quality (they are beholden to shareholders and profit margin, not low income residents, or the north end for that matter). This is what residents voted (or, didn’t bother voting) for.

  9. 9 Rockannand

    Appalled, Philips vote “for” was to ensure she got her full allocation of block grant money for her district. They (Lou, Connor and Kubic) play hardball with the others. Santi’s vote has nothing to do with proving anything. Massey is clueless (deer in the headlights) and Poisson does what he’s told. Budnick is the one to watch. He could have gone against it, but did not and posted on the School parents FB page to explain his vote. Hoydick i don’t get at all.

    They still play games hoping not to wake the sheep – they list the parcel that is the water treatment plant, but don’t call it out. They don’t want to be reminded that when this blog and Masters and Paul questioned the possible sale back in January, the bully of town hall jumped ugly with personal attacks on Masters and Paul.

    I wonder what would happen if the 8th and 9th districts (Oronoque) turned on the Mayor’s and DeCilio’s water boys (Connor and Kubic)?

  10. 10 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    “Still trying to figure out why the lone Dem voted for the budget.”

    You’d think after all these years Ms. Phillips would stop believing that the Town will build a water park in her district.

  11. 11 appalledandamused

    The CD block grant money isn’t something the Council can play games with and get away with. They can try; they can threaten to disperse the funds beyond the south end needs, but where to? Like Jezebel suggests, they were never going to allocate funds to a water park for that district, however, messing with block grant and HUD funding to bully a councilmember into signing onto the budget seems like a stretch. Especially that budget.

  12. 12 1cyclops

    Council member Phillips voted for the budget of her own free will. Sadly,it is what she wanted to do. Blaming it on block grant & HUD funding is a stretch, a very long stretch.

  13. 13 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    “but where to?”

    My own guess would be the Birdseye Municipal Complex which is becoming home to the Town’s least popular departments and applications.

  14. 14 Rockannand

    Well the WPCA Commissioners, better known as our “Tax and Spend” republican Town Council has called a double secret probation (think Animal House) meeting for this Monday June 2nd down at Council Chambers (the other cesspool in town). You may remember that they tabled a vote on the proposed $50 increase in the sewer tax/fee (is there a difference, really?) back on 4/28. they want to see if they can sneak this vote in while no one is looking. I am not sure if they have the votes, but it would not hurt to raise cain by calling/emailing the sewer guys, better known as your councilmen (and woman) and let them know enough is enough.

  15. 15 jezebel282

    Rock,

    They are relentless aren’t they? It has to be done with secrecy. Someone might ask a WPCA board member, aka the Town Council, to explain $2.4 million in illegal WPCA charges. Remember, only one Councilman has been dumb enough to admit it in print…so far.

  16. 16 jezebel282

    Update:

    In case anyone had the slightest doubt, the WPCA (AKA the Town Council) threw residents and fee payers (It’s not a tax, remember?) under the bus.

    Water authority increases sewer fees; possible land sale mentioned
    By Greg Reilly on June 3, 2014
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/22594/water-authority-increases-sewer-fees-6-5/

    UPDATED June 3 9:45 a.m.- With six out of ten members present, the Stratford Water Pollution Control Authority approved a 6.5% increase in user fees for the fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1, at a special meeting on June 2. Don’t you just love “special” meetings?

    “the WPCA will be expected to take about $525,000 from the its $5.2 million cash reserve account”

    Cash reserves? What cash reserves? Where, oh where, in the Town budget or any budget are “cash reserves” listed? With an alleged $10.6 million operating budget the WPCA has cash reserves of $5.2 million? 50%?? Who does that? What is the purpose of such a large cash reserve? Why is it found nowhere in the budget? Is it a contingency in case you and I suddenly stop flushing our toilets in protest?

    But wait. You knew it wouldn’t stop there…
    “Town Council Chairman Joe Kubic said after the meeting that he expects that the town will sell its nine acres of land to the WPCA, which is legally a separate entity from the town, and that such a sale would be part of a plan to eventually sell have the WPCA break away from the town and become part of a new regional water authority.”

    So let’s get this straight. The WPCA operates at a profit. It must because the mayor and Council use the funds to defray Town-wide expenses illegally. Because of this “profit” at our expense, it becomes an attractive asset to sell off. No public hearings, no objections and no referendum. Just sell it.

  17. 17 Rockannand

    The key is to keep pressure on Kubic and Connors until they crack. They are tools of DeCilio and Harkins. They hate me. I love it. Who is with me?

  18. 18 jezebel282

    Rock,

    Thank you for your efforts. There is something mightily wrong here. These numbers add up to…who knows? None of it makes any sense. In particular, the sudden news that somewhere there is $5.2 million in cash hidden under a mattress in Town Hall. The first question is how did that get there? Our “fees” have been rising steadily since Harkins took office. There is no great increase over the last 5 or 6 years in the WPCA operating expense that would justify higher fees. So did the $5.2 million simply go into a jar in Harkins office? And why is this found nowhere in a budget? Have the cash “reserves” been used in a unpublished manner before?

    Ultimately, this is our money. We actually do have a right to know how it is being used.

  19. 19 ronmoreau

    Let me get this straight. Stratford taxpayers have spent hundreds of MILLIONS of dollars to have a “state of the art” sewage treatment plant and our town fathers want to give it away for 5 million dollars. Something is very wrong with this picture. We will then be at the mercy of state regulators for our sewer use fees instead of our own town leaders. Does Bridgeport (Sikorsky) airport ring a bell.

  20. 20 ronmoreau

    Will we still be responsible for the bond debt associated with the upgrades at the plant, which was the excuse for the resent increase of the sewer use fees.

  21. 21 jezebel282

    Ron,

    “Something is very wrong with this picture.”

    There are actually quite a few “somethings” that are wrong with the way our fees have been handled by the WPCA, aka the Town Council.

    “Town Attorney Tim Bishop pointed out that the WPCA, a separate entity from the town, using its cash to pay for town general operating expenses would be prohibited by law.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/22817/budgeted-revenue-expected-from-water-facility-land/

    Duh.

    As we have cited in several locations previously, it is clearly prohibited to use WPCA fees for any purpose other than operating or bond expenses. The State statute is specifically and adamantly clear about this when it says “and for no other purpose”. You know, like subsidizing Public Works payroll, ridiculous “rent” the WPCA pays to the Town, transfers to the General Fund or pension subsidies.

    But even more disturbing are the statements made in the press by Councilmen Kubic and Connor that there is a $5.2 MILLION cash “reserve” in the WPCA. The first question is how did the WPCA amass such a large amount of cash? There can only be one answer: we have been paying fees that are too high. It is obvious that the WPCA’s operating expenses and bond payments are not nearly as high as we have been told. By perhaps as much as 50%. That is as blatant a violation of trust in our elected officials as there can be. There is no accounting for any of these funds in the published budget.

    And now we have this scheme to drain that very same $5.2 MILLION by “selling” the land under the WPCA and inserting it into the General Fund (aka the Town Budget). Are you kidding me? The WPCA is a TOWN operated and controlled entity. It’s personnel are managed by the Town’s HR department, it’s paychecks bear Harkins signature, it’s purchasing is managed by the Town’s Purchasing Department, it’s operations are controlled by Nocera and Harkins and its budget can only be approved by the Town Council and Harkins. This is nothing more than a paper plan to move cash into the Town’s budget. Something that even the Town Attorney says is illegal.

  22. 22 appalledandamused

    The WPCA would be sold for 5 million and they have 5.2 million in cash reserve. Perhaps it’s been sold already….

  23. 23 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    “The WPCA would be sold for 5 million and they have 5.2 million in cash”

    The scheme we know about calls for selling the land under the WPCA for about $5 million. And who would the WPCA buy it from? The Town of course. And who negotiates the price, terms and conditions? The Town Council….with themselves since they are also the WPCA.

    Once the “sale” is completed, whatever corporate entity that buys the WPCA will own the whole thing and the only revenue the Town will see are the property taxes paid by the corporation, unless they also get some tax abatement deal to sweeten the pot. We, you and me, will get to pay higher sewer fees forever.

    It sounds like a great deal. Unless you live in Stratford of course.

  24. 24 appalledandamused

    And if the town buys the land from the WPCA for $5 million, what happens if the WPCA doesn’t sell in the open (‘free’)market for anywhere close to that amount? Taxpayers will pay the difference in what’s called “stranded costs”. You and I will pay for the losses the town leaders could incur.

    It would be interesting to see a legitimate book value on the plant; not one the Council and Mayor has set?

  25. 25 Rockannand

    Here is Burgeson’s article on the sewer tax increase.
    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Sewer-rates-inch-up-in-Stratford-5536425.php
    I actually can buy the points for the “rent” and HR overhead. Looks like they can point to both State and EPA rules to justify those charges. But the other $1-1.5mm of questionable expenses from General have not been answered. Wanna bet we don’t get a direct response?

  26. 26 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    “And if the town buys the land from the WPCA for $5 million”

    We know this is a bit tricky to follow, but let’s be clear. The “Town” isn’t going to “buy” any land. It already owns the land. What the mayor wants to do is have the Town “sell” the land to the WPCA. Why? To transfer $5.2 million in the fee overcharges that we’ve been paying to the WPCA directly into the General Fund. Voila! A tax increase without having to call it a “tax increase”. With one keyboard entry by Sue Collier (Finance Director), $5+ million is “legally” available for Town disbursement to “whatever”.

    Of course, the sale price will be negotiated between the Town Council and WPCA Board which are the same thing. The WPCA Board (the Town Council) will still run the WPCA. Nothing really changes except our money is now available for any purpose Harkins desires. Will our sewer “fees” go down? Not a chance. We will continue to be overcharged to replenish the cash “reserve”. That will happen until some corporate entity buys this neat little package that includes the land. Then our rates will really go up.

    Rock,

    “I actually can buy the points for the “rent” and HR overhead. Looks like they can point to both State and EPA rules to justify those charges.”

    The article said no such thing. What the article did say is the same thing we’ve been saying. ” …federal Environmental Protection Agency grants to the town for plant improvements require that the WPCA and the town be separate entities,”. As we know, revenue from sewer usage can be used for operating expenses and bond repayment and interest but “for no other purpose”.

    As for “HR overhead” that is a whole ‘nother discussion. For example, what would be the differential expense of handling payroll through something like ADP versus our HR Department (which has never won praise for efficiency). We have a WPCA Superintendent that we pay $102,000/year. Surely he can manage policy for the other 15 employees. We won’t even bring up $1+ million in Town-wide pension theft, $500,000 in subsidies to Public Works or $300,000 in a straightforward theft. Oh wait! We did bring it up didn’t we?

    We’ve spent a lot of time and effort exposing these schemes. Why? It is not because we care that it is the RTC that is doing these things or that we somehow favor the DTC (Do they still exist?). No. It is because Stratford Municipal government is there for one very simple to understand reason; it exists for our benefit. These plans and actions do nothing to benefit any citizen or business in Stratford. In fact, they harm almost everyone. Not one elected or appointed official has ever explained the benefit of their actions. Our guess for this lack of justification is that the appointed officials are at-will and the RTC Council will do anything Harkins tells them to do.

  27. 27 appalledandamused

    Gotcha on the “sell” part, but again if the evevtual (inevitable) sale of the WPCA in an open market doesn’t match the Council and Mayor’s established worth, the taxpayers will face a stranded cost. The admin wins either way. The residents lose while thinking this is a sure (albeit short term, at best) solution.

  28. 28 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    You know it could be that this whole “sale” to some corporate entity is just a story to cover the extraction of $ 5 million of our money from the WPCA.

  29. 29 appalledandamused

    “You know it could be that this whole “sale” to some corporate entity is just a story to cover the extraction of $ 5 million of our money from the WPCA.”

    But that would be underhanded and devious. Oh, wait…..

    By the way, wondering if the Council spokesweasel for the issue in the CT Post article volunteered for the job, or just allowed himself to be the administration’s tool.

  30. 30 jezebel282

    Probably just pasted what Town Hall emailed.

  31. 31 jezebel282

    Update:

    Just as a reminder:

    “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

    Explanation:

    “All benefit assessments and charges for connection with or use of the sewerage system”
    Those would be the $400 “fees” we just got in the mail.

    “shall be kept separate from other funds of the municipality and shall be used for the sewerage system”
    Well, not since Harkins has been mayor.

    “and for no other purpose.”
    We did not see a footnote here that reads something to the effect of “Except for Stratford”.

    The “sale” of the land under the WPCA to the WPCA by the Town is nothing more than an illegal extraction of the overinflated “fees” we have been paying for five years.

    So what is to be done? In reality, not much. Oh, you can try to contact the Attorney General’s Office. His name is George Jepson and he can be reached at 55 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106 Telephone: (860) 808-5318 attorney.general@ct.gov. The chances of that office actually doing something are remote at best.

    The truth is that we (well, a plurality) voted for these people who are misusing our money. Even when faced with a clear violation of State statute, the Attorney General would be reluctant to investigate an entire Town administration as well as ten elected members of a Town Council/WPCA Board because, yet again, we elected them.

    The truth is that there is no organization in existence that’s purpose is to protect the taxpayers from their own poor choices. Otherwise, that organization would sue the Town in Civil Court thereby preventing the sale for years. What we do have is a Republican Town Committee that is in complete control of the Town and a Democratic Town Committee that is so inept and confused that when asked for a response it is usually, “Huh?”.

    As a last desperate attempt, we can always try to contact the individual Council members and express our outrage. http://www.townofstratford.com/content/39832/43487/43499.aspx Think of it as two calls in one because each of them are also a member of the WPCA Board and will be negotiating with themselves on the sale price.

  32. 32 jezebel282

    Update:

    Well, at least one other person in Stratford thinks that the sale of the land the WPCA sits on to the WPCA is illegal.

    From: “Stephanie Philips”
    Date: July 29, 2014 at 10:13:03 AM EDT

    “At the Town Council meeting last night I challenged the Mayor’s administration to explain why a new line appeared in the WPCA budget for Land Acquisition for $5.6 million that was NOT voted on by the Town Council or included in the itemized motion recorded in the minutes for the budget vote. This changed was added after the Town Council vote but prior to publication without any acknowledgment of adding a $5.6 million expense to the WPCA budget. The Mayor’s office does not have the authority to change the budget after a vote. This is a clear violation of the Town Charter and an arrogant back door move to give the appearance the Town Council intended to sell the WPCA properties within passage of the 2015 Budget. The Mayor’s administration has to stop this brash underhanded pattern of doing things without the approvals beforehand from the Town Council, Town Agencies, and the ultimately the Stratford Taxpayers.”

    Attached is the supporting documentation. I urge our members to write letters; use Facebook and Social media to demand answers and correct the budget.
    Thanks,

    Stephanie Philips
    41 Yarwood Street
    Stratford, CT 06615
    v: 203 377-2119
    f: 203 377-5015
    sphilips@slrgroup.com

    This is, of course, just another illegal action by the Harkins Administration. This one is merely a violation of the Town Charter for which there is no punishment. It’s not like it’s a violation of a State statute like the funding of Town-wide operations or pension funds. Now that is expressly forbidden by State statute:

    “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

    But as long as we all keep silent about it and pretend it’s not happening it will just happen. Just like the unpublished BOE budget. What the heck, it’s only our money. What right do we have to decide how much or how it is spent?

  33. 33 Rockannand

    Oh my, they did that??? ;). Since State’s AG office won’t do anything (its a local municipal issue), its up to us to turn up the heat on these brazen actions by Harkins and company.

  34. 34 appalledandamused

    Thank goodness Stephanie spoke out. Now what? How do you get a town population outraged? How do you get the people who are just focused on their schools not closing to understand the long-term affects of this action? Where’s the SDTC in regards to getting out there and making sure every single resident is fully aware of the consequences of this Republican overreach?

  35. Wait so this is to say that several parcels of land that had been acquired due to nonpayment of taxes (including the sewer plant) were designated for sale by the Town and then the town is selling the property to itself???? Is that correct?

    And…how do we ensure also that the contaminated property on Longbrook that is for sale, (should it be sold) be remediated properly? Not that I am hopeful it will sell – another lingering, contaminated eye sore in Stratford…

  36. 36 jezebel282

    Devney,

    “due to nonpayment of taxes (including the sewer plant)”

    Well, kinda. The sewer plant is not delinquent on taxes because it is not required to pay any.

    The other properties which all require foreclosure proceedings are simply a windfall for the attorney representing the Town. Oh wait, that’s the Town Attorney isn’t it? And, of course, they will all need current appraisals as well.

    No, the sewer plant is a whole different story. It has everything to due with what is called a “tax” and a “fee”. For five years now, Harkins has been steadily raising the “fee”. (That’s how we got the $5 million “cash reserve”). He can rightly claim that he is not raising “taxes”…much. Even though the bill is mailed by the Tax Collector and payable to the Tax Collector.

    Simply put, Harkins has been raising taxes without calling it a “tax”. He’s been using the money to subsidize public works, the General Fund, Pension obligations…whatever. Now he wants to extract a much larger pile of cash by having the Town “sell” the land to the WPCA for whatever amount is in the WPCA cash reserve. And, as readers who have been following along know, the WPCA board is comprised of all 10 Council members. So, yes, we are “selling” it to ourselves. It just gets $5 million in cash off the WPCA assets and onto the Town’s revenue. Totally illegal, but nobody seems to care. We just keep paying the higher fees.

    Rock,

    “Since State’s AG office won’t do anything (its a local municipal issue)”

    That has to be the dumbest reason I have ever heard. The WPCA is a State regulated authority. Who else could violate the statute but a Town? It’s not like you can go to the WPCA and stick them up for $5 million in cash unless you are a mayor and a council.

  37. 37 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    “How do you get the people who are just focused on their schools not closing to understand the long-term affects of this action?”

    They are not focused on their schools either. There is still no approved budget* that has been published by the Board of Education. You would think that for the $101 MILLION of our money they would give us a clue about how they will spend it. No one at the Board of Education can point to any school and explain anything. We mean aside from the $50,000 raise for the Superintendent contained in the proposed budget. (How can you get by on a mere $210,000 a year?) You would think parents would like to know how much of their tax money is going to be spent on their child and in what manner. But parents plainly don’t care.

    Of course that didn’t stop anyone in Town Hall from mailing out the tax bills which, by the way, are due tomorrow. The letter from your mortgage company will arrive soon enough.

    *Someone has changed the title of the link to the budget on the BOE website, but it is the same proposed budget that was not approved by the Council. Nice try.

  38. 39 jezebel282

    Update:

    In one of the most uncritical pieces of writing we’ve read in a very long time, the Stratford Star is again attempting to justify Harkins’ theft of $5.2 (or is it $5.6) million from the WPCA. It is written as if Terry Masters is completely off-base and that Harkins and Marc Dillion his Chief of Staff have it all under control. Well that last part is true, they certainly are in control.

    But let’s review:

    “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 operative phrase here is “…and for no other purpose.” Buying land that has been owned by the Town for 375 years by a Town operation (the WPCA) is the height of slight of hand tricks.

    The other thing the Star neglects to mention or even considers relevant is how that $5.2 million got there anyway. Have we been overcharged for the last five years or so? Is that where the “change” goes? And since when do we need a “reserve” fund? Who decides how big the reserve fund needs to be? Is more that 50% of operating expense appropriate? What happens when the “reserve” fund is depleted by the purchase of land? Will our rates go up yet again to “replenish” the fund?

    Let’s get to the other part of the statute which the Star ignores: “shall be kept separate from other funds of the municipality”. As we have noted several times in these pages (https://stratfordcharter.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/wait-what/#comment-21392), The WPCA lists a pension fund expense for 16 employees that is larger than their entire payroll. Could those finds be going to Town-wide pension fund obligations? Probably.

    The WPCA also lists a $500,000 subsidy to public works, $600,000 in “rent” and $300,000 in contribution to the General Fund.

    So, it is not just the sale of land to itself that is in question. It is the entire management of the WPCA by this administration.

    We are not going to guess what Terry Masters motivations might be, although we hope it involves a run for office someday. What is clear by her actions is that she is speaking out and acting on behalf of the two most ignored segments of Stratford; residents and taxpayers,

    Thank you Ms. Masters. You keep at it!

  39. 40 jezebel282

    Update:

    Let’s be clear. The only person in Stratford who thinks selling the Water Pollution Control facility (the sewer plant) to some for-profit corporation is a good idea is John Harkins. It’s bad enough he wants to “sell” the land under the sewer plant to the sewer plant and steal the $5.2 million in cash that we’ve been overcharged. But there is something worse, which tells you why Harkins gets away with anything he wants.

    If you are the Councilman in whose district the sewer plant is and have been given the responsibility of representing the people in your district what would you do? Apparently, if you are Peter Massey (R-1st District) you resign of course.

    Massey resigns, Kubic approved as WPCA chairman
    By Greg Reilly on November 11, 2014
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/30326/massey-resigns-kubic-approved-as-wpca-chairman/

    We can now look forward to Joe Kubic bullying his way through anything Harkins wants to do with the plant.

  40. 41 jezebel282

    Update:

    Now we have the Council denying knowledge about plans for the WPCA.

    “There are at least four members of the Town Council and Water Pollution Control Authority, probably more, who had not been briefed by Mayor Harkins as of Jan. 6 on a plan that he is forming as a proposal for the future of Stratford’s Water Pollution Control Authority.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/31874/wpca-briefing/

    How could they possibly not know this? They have already voted for it.

    “One of reasons that the mill rate increase is less while expense increase is greater is that the Council’s budget assumes that the town will be able to raise about $4.5 million in revenue by selling town land and properties it has acquired through foreclosure.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/21153/stratford-increases-spending-6-overall-2-5-for-schools/

    For months we have discussed the plan to sell the land the WPCA sits on to the WPCA by the Town Council who are, wait for it, the WPCA. How could a Councilman/WPCA Board member state that he doesn’t know about this?

    And yet they wonder why they have no credibility.

  41. 42 ronmoreau

    http://www.stratfordstar.com/32486/selling-land-wpca-on-planning-agenda-thurs-jan-29/
    Those who have been investing in Stratford beware! Loosing control of a town asset. Stratfords “town fathers” that sold control of the airport in town to Bridgeport 75 years ago, are long gone. How has that working out? Now the current town fathers are trying to do the same to our sewage plant that we have spent “millions” of dollars to bring up to code. To make it regional? It’s been regional. We have been selling access to it for decades. You may think the “Sewer use fees” are high now? Let someone out of town set those fees and decide what goes on there? They’ve got to be out of their minds. Those who have been investing in Stratford beware!

  42. 43 ronmoreau

    By the way. I am an elected member, per se, of the Stratford Republican Town Committee.

  43. 44 jezebel282

    Ron,

    “I am an elected member of the Stratford Republican Town Committee.”

    Maybe you can tell us what it is they smoke/drink/or shoot up?

  44. 45 jezebel282

    Now one would think that the sale of close to a $100 million facility owned by Stratford taxpayers would require a hearing or maybe even a referendum.

    Apparently not in Stratford.

    Please note the following Sale of the WPCA has been added last minute to the agenda for the scheduled meeting on Monday 2/23/2015 7pm.
    NO Public Hearing is scheduled

    New Business
    B) Potential Purchase of Land under WPCA Facility by WPCA from the Town of Stratford – Executive Session may be required
    C) Potential Sale of WPCA – Executive Session may be required

    It makes you wonder how many more ways can Harkins and the RTC insult us?


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