Stratford Democracy

23Feb15
The Stratford Version

The Stratford Version

The latest ploy by our Council Chairman and mayor was to conduct “Executive Sessions” of the Town Council/WPCA (They are the same thing, you know.) out of view of the public to decide whether to steal $5 million from the WPCA cash reserve or to just sell the most expensive asset the Town owns.

Both items raise serious questions about fiscal management. The first question is how did $5.2 million accumulate in a cash reserve? That seems like a whole lot of money for a $10 million operation. We can think of no business that keeps 52% of it’s entire budget in a “cash reserve”. Then there are the stories filtering out of Town Hall that the WPCA is losing money. Losing money? How can that be? There is certainly enough on hand to siphon $1 million of the WPCA budget to pay Town-wide pension obligations (which is totally illegal), subsidize Public Works (also illegal), pay the Town $600,000/year in “rent” (illegal as well) and oh yeah, fork over $300,000/year (really illegal) to the Town’s General Fund. Maybe that’s why the WPCA is “losing” money?

But the second item on the agenda is the sale of the whole thing to some random corporation which goes by the name of “regionalization”. A very conservative estimate of the actual sale value of such a facility would be well north of $100 million ($100,000,000). Why on Earth would we do that? Honestly, we have no idea. No one does except Harkins. The point here though is that the WPCA is not owned by John Harkins. The owners of the WPCA are you and me. Why are we not involved in this decision? If a For Sale sign appeared in your front yard, you would certainly want to know why it was put there and who did it. In “Executive Sessions” we are not entitled to participate or even know who voted yes or no.

We demand public hearings and a referendum on the matter.

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37 Responses to “Stratford Democracy”

  1. 1 appalledandamused

    We know Harkins is getting directive from ALEC — or it’s offshoot, ACCE, — where’s he’s an esteemed member. But what’s the message conveyed to residents of this fair city by the sale? Is it perceived as a threat by most, or a tax relief? What’s the alternative to selling off our public services to privatizing in order to cover the pension obligations, subsidizing public works and the general fund? Higher taxes? This is the area people in town don’t understand and can be swayed by the leadership who seek to convince them that privatizing the WPCA is ‘in their best interest’. How is the privatization resonating with the people of Stratford is key – are they seeing this as a way to cover these costs (short-term, anyway) as opposed to the mill rate going up? People don’t understand how the town works for the most part. It’s confusing and saying that privatizing town-owned facilities appeals to people who aren’t aware of what that means in the long term. How DOES the pension obligation get addressed in a legal manner?

  2. 2 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    Not a small part of the problem (among many) is that no information concerning any benefit of the sale of the WPCA is available….to anyone.

    We can only guess at the motivation of Harkins or what potential benefit for someone there might be. But the major reason for the controversy is that on its face the sale of the WPCA is ludicrous. No one, for example, has claimed that the sale would result in lower taxes or fees of any kind for residents and taxpayers. Ever.

    If the sale of the WPCA does not result in lower taxes and fees, why sell it? To date it remains a mystery. What we do know is that Harkins, the RTC and thus the Council persists in pursuing this.

  3. 3 jezebel282

    Just 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.

  4. 4 jezebel282

    Update:

    If there were any doubt what Harkins’ intent for the WPCA, that has been removed with his published statement in the Stratford Star.

    Harkins: Why Stratford should regionalize
    By Mayor John Harkins on March 5, 2015
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/33593/harkins-why-stratford-should-regionalize/

    It is hard to know where to begin with this statement of his because there is so little actual information in it. But, hey, we’ll give it a shot.

    “increase efficiencies and improve the quality of services,”

    We must be talking about a different WPCA here because Stratford’s is state of the art and has won awards for efficiency and quality.

    “lessen the burden on tax and sewer rate payers,”

    Which taxpayers and sewer rate payers are we talking about? The ones in New Haven or the ones in Stratford. How much less would the be?

    “a reduction of the Town’s overall debt obligation by $37 million, ”

    That’s it? $37 million is all you’re asking? It cost far more than that to upgrade the WPCA. Far more.

    “As Mayor, it is my job to seek ways to improve the Town of Stratford for the benefit of our residents.”

    Don’t get me started…..

    “In Hartford, our legislative and executive branches of government are pushing for regionalization efforts among towns”

    Actually that would be the ACCE part of ALEC that you’ve joined.

    “Stratford will maintain an integral role in the governance and setting of sewer rates in a regional WPCA (two seats on a regional board).”

    Other than an underpriced asset? How many seats are there. Are two a lot?

    “Allowing for a more effective and broad-based protection of the environment and the watershed at a lower cost.”

    Prove it.

    “Removal of wastewater debt and liabilities from the Town.”

    Our wastewater debt liabilities are well handled by the WPCA fees. That is if you would stop siphoning funds illegally from the WPCA.

    “Removal of regulatory compliance and permitting responsibilities from the Town.”

    See above answer.

    “Stratford will receive compensation for the sale of wastewater assets, as well an annual PILOT payment.”

    Yet again, no numbers at all? How MUCH compensation? $10 million/year?

    “Some will oppose the idea of regionalization in order to engage in petty politics, and regrettably, show no interest in moving our Town forward.”

    Really? Is that the only possible reason? Or could it be that this makes no financial sense at all?

    “They make statements contrary to economic reality and assertions based on missing information and a lack of knowledge.”

    Perhaps if the taxpayers (You know, the current owners?) had real information to work with and debate?

    “In an effort to scare residents, they decry regionalization as privatization, and make baseless claims about rate increases, poor water quality, and a loss of autonomy.”

    What’s scary is an out of control executive who wants to sell off taxpayer owned assets with no discussion at all.

    “The reality is that these claims are untrue: sewer control is governed by state law”

    Like this one? 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.

  5. 5 shanliss

    I saw this, the public notice regarding the public hearing on the WPCA asset sale, yesterday in the Post. So it appears that the schedule may have slipped a bit, perhaps, but the tag sale (“90% mark-down!”) is still on, sometime after this April 6 public hearing, the public be damned:

    NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING Pursuant to the direction of the Honorable Joseph Kubic, Chairman of the Stratford Town Council and Stratford Water Pollution Control Authority (“SWPCA”), the Stratford Town Council and SWPCA will meet in Council Chambers of Stratford Town Hall, 2725 Main Street, Stratford, CT, on Monday, April 6, 2015 at 6:00 P.M. for the purpose of holding a PUBLIC HEARING on (1) the proposed sale of the assets of the SWPCA to the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority (“GNHWPCA”), (2) the Asset Purchase Agreement related to the sale of SWPCA assets to GNHWPCA by and among GNHWPCA, as Buyer, and each of the Town of Stratford and SWPCA, as Sellers (the “Asset Purchase Agreement”), (3) the proposed sale to GNHWPCA of certain real property owned by the Town of Stratford and used in connection with the SWPCA, and (4) the proposed granting to GNHWPCA of easements/rights of way to certain real property owned by the Town of Stratford and used in connection with the SWPCA. Copies of the proposed Asset Purchase Agreement are on file open to public inspection at the office of the Stratford Town Attorney, Stratford Town Hall, 2725 Main Street, Stratford, CT. Dated this 7th day of March, 2015.
    Appeared in: Connecticut Post on Saturday, 03/07/2015

  6. 6 jezebel282

    Shanliss

    No one should be surprised at any of this. Harkins has already given away a large chunk of Stratford to Bridgeport for free for their airport. This despite decades of opposition to doing this. Oh, and there are still the “features” of hindering access to 1200+ homes in Lordship and turning the only road in to Lordship as something near driving on a dry riverbed strewn with boulders.

    After we give away our WPCA asset we wonder what’s next on Harkins list. You know there will be something. Selling our schools cheap for corporate office space? Maybe condos? How about selling the Fire Department? We’re sure ALEC/ACCE could justify privatization of Fire Departments. Car accident? That’ll be $500 for fluid leakage, $1500 per extrication and $750/hour for on-scene time. Structure fire? Please see our handy rate chart.

    This guy is just out of control.

  7. 7 ronmoreau

    Jez, It’ not just the WPCA plant that Stratford taxpayers would loose control of with this “regionalization plan”. We would also loose control of every sewer under every street in town.

  8. 8 jezebel282

    Update:

    Not that it matters in this Town, but Harkins does not have the authority according to the Town Charter to sell any property belonging to the Taxpayers of Stratford by himself.

    None.

    The sole authority to sell Stratford property resides with the Town Council.

    2.2.1 Council Powers
    The Council shall have the power to make, alter and repeal resolutions and ordinances….(c) relative to the sale, leasing, management, improvement and control of such property;…”

    So when the vote comes up to sell the sewer plant, reduce the assets we own and raise our fees we will also have those Councilmen voting “aye” to blame. There are probably even a few of them that think they could be mayor in the future. We would do well to remember which ones sold us out.

  9. 9 jezebel282

    Even more update:

    http://www.stratfordstar.com/33774/mayor-regionalization-can-work-for-town/

    “We’re going to have more control over our sewer rate than any other utility even after this transaction is done,” Nocera said, saying complaints about a loss of control are “the politics of fear.”

    Actually it’s more like “the politics of math”. This may be the crucial issue right here. No one understands Town Hall math. Somehow, instead of 10 out of 10 elected Stratford residents being in control of the WPCA, 2 votes out of 13 gives us more control. See? Simple Town Hall mathematics!

    Put another way, when the new “regional authority” wants to raise our rates (and perhaps lower theirs) our two votes will surely win against their eleven votes. Why can’t everyone see that?

    “Woodbridge, East Haven and Hamden are participating municipalities along with New Haven.”

    Umm….hold on there, Buckaroo. Exactly how does waste from these Towns get over or under the Housatonic River? Or are we only talking about sucking money out of our sewer plant operation?

    “Harkins said other municipalities and private companies like United Water and Aquarion Water had approached the town with deals about operating the WPCA.”

    We’ll bet they have. Must be a valuable asset with lot’s and lot’s of potential revenue?

    “probably the best thing for the residents and the town of Stratford was to regionalize with Greater New Haven.””

    Here is the part where we always become lost. Tell us again, slowly, how it is “the best thing for the residents”?

    “As part of the deal, Stratford would sell the WPCA and equipment to the regional authority. The town would receive a lump sum of $11 million for the WPCA as well as the $5 million in the Stratford WPCA reserve account….Stratford would also receive $200,000 for the 2015-16 fiscal year from the regional authority, $420,000 per year for the following 10 years in a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, and $400,000 annually after that.
    The regional authority would also take on the $37-million debt the town has remaining from the $61-million upgrade of the WPCA completed in the 2008-09 fiscal year.”

    There is that Town Hall mathematics again. If you look at the budget published by Town Hall (Maybe that’s where we go wrong?) you would see that of the $10.7 million taken in by the WPCA, $2.5 million is siphoned off to pay Town-wide expenses. And that is after debt expenses.

    To put it in very simple terms, the fees we pay right now not only cover the expense of operating the sewer plant and any debt related to it, it also provides $2.5 million a year to the Town in cash money for “whatever”. You can see now why Harkins would want to give up $2.5 million and take $0.4 million instead. Simple Town Hall mathematics!

    “Nocera said the New Haven authority was a better choice than other groups because it is legally a municipality that deals only with wastewater.”

    Pssst! Stratford is a municipality too. Just sayin’….

    “More importantly, it would be run in a more efficient, professional manner than what is happening right now.”

    Putting the award winning performance of the WPCA aside for just a moment, isn’t that Harkins and Nocera’s job to run things efficiently and professionally? Maybe we should get some who can handle their job better?

    “The reality is this is a good deal for Stratford and it is allowing us to have our own independent rate and a voice in what that rate is,” Nocera said.”

    Who’s reality are we speaking of? Certainly not the residents, businesses and taxpayers reality. Their reality is going to suck even more than it does now.

    “Opponents will say, ‘Don’t do anything, why would you want to get rid of this?’ To not do anything or to not have a discussion about how you operate as a government, that’s not what I’m all about. We have an obligation to the taxpayer to provide efficient services at a low cost.”

    Actually, no one said “don’t do anything”. We recall saying that you are illegally using WPCA funds to cover bad budget decisions. How our municipal government operates is not up to one person to judge. How government operates is up to the voters who live here. Just as selling off voter’s property is not up to one person’s deep seated and fringe belief that all government is bad no matter what.

    And while we’re on the subject of an obligation to the taxpayer to provide efficient services at low cost can we talk about the Town Attorney or Economic Development Director?

  10. 10 jezebel282

    We are wondering what may be going on with the Historic District Commission? It seems every Democratic and non-rubber stamp Republican is being forced out and replaced with Harkins approved RTC favorites. What could they have in mind for the Historic District? Maybe turn it into history, as in fond memory?

  11. 11 jezebel282

    Rare Correction:

    From this Blog:

    “Actually it’s more like “the politics of math”. This may be the crucial issue right here. No one understands Town Hall math. Somehow, instead of 10 out of 10 elected Stratford residents being in control of the WPCA, 2 votes out of 13 gives us more control. See? Simple Town Hall mathematics!”

    From The Star:

    “If Stratford chooses to join Greater New Haven, it will be represented on the regional authority’s board with two members, bringing the board membership to 13.”
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/33774/mayor-regionalization-can-work-for-town/

    From the Post:

    “If the council went with the idea, Stratford would get two seats on what is now a nine-member board of directors.”
    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Stratford-to-consider-joining-regional-waste-6136141.php

    Wait a minute! Is it 2 votes out of 9, 2 votes out of 11 or 2 votes out of 13? Does anyone actually know? And does it matter? Any way it gets added up, Stratford is outvoted every single time. It’s only a question of how big the margin is. It’s that whole “more control” thing Harkins/Nocera talk about.

    Here are some words you will never see from Harkins regarding this awful deal: “Lower taxes” and “Lower fees”.

  12. Jez,
    I am one of those affected by Harkins’ recent shenanigans, below is my Facebook post and the email I sent to the Mayor and all members of the Town Council last night. Happy to share the documentation that is referenced if you like. Harkins is obviously unaware of the unspoken rule of never to piss off an Irish woman……

    Hello my fellow Stratfordites, I wanted to share with you a letter (noted below) I just sent to Mayor Harkins and the Town Council. By way of background at last week’s town council meeting I along with two of my fellow colleagues were removed from the Historic District Commission by the mayor himself without any notification and replaced with four new individuals (one being an alternate). While our terms were expired I have sent along correspondence from December 2013 that indicated those of us with expired terms would like to be re-appointed however after fifteen months of serving in good stead, John Harkins decided we were no longer needed. I have yet to receive any “official” notification that I have been removed. Never mind a thank you for your service. I feel this is personal as I have recently become outspoken against him and his administration via letters to the editor, blog comments and Facebook posts. For me that good ole boy charm has eroded away and I am now seeing him for the person he really is…. I believe he viewed some of the members of the HDC as being road blocks to his Transit Orient Development plans as they are going to be looking to tear down three buildings downtown. One being the old center school (Board of Ed there now), the old SNET building and the third I think is the building currently occupied by the Milford Bank. I also feel the fact that HDC was looking to bring the Shakespeare theater building under the HDC jurisdiction as done with the White house also plays a part given the council’s recent vote endorsing the Stratford Stage Group. This is our town government at its best – this is a mayor with his own agenda and he will do whatever it takes to remove those whom he views as a being an impediment to getting his way….

    Mayor Harkins,
    On Wednesday, March 11th I found out via a third party text message that Historic District Chairman Tom Yemm, Commissioner Paul Joy and I were unceremoniously removed at your behest from the Historic District Commission at the Town Council meeting held on Monday, March 9th. Let me be very clear that I do not appreciate the manner in which this was communicated to me. I am absolutely astounded by the lack of professional decorum you and your administration operate under. It is now March 15th I still have not received any official word of my removal from the Historic District Commission. No phone call, email or official letter on town letterhead advising that I have been replaced. It is also my understanding that the other two commissioners have not received any notification either. While it can be argued that our terms had expired, communication between your Chief of Staff Mr. Marc Dillion and Commission Chairman Mr. Tom Yemm from December 2013 clearly indicated to Mr. Dillon that all commissioners with expired terms would welcome re-appointment to the HDC. Please see attached correspondence for your reference. Based on this correspondence, if acted upon appropriately, would have meant each of us being re-appointed to new five year terms. It is obvious that someone within your office/administration dropped the ball on this. Given this correspondence was dated as of December 2013, how is it that now fifteen months later you all of a sudden decide to replace us? Did you not think that each of us as long standing members should have been given the option to either be re-appointed or move on? As I have been a member in good standing for ten years on the HDC I feel this is a direct slap in the face. No thank you for having volunteered my time, no nothing. It is clear to me that you have no appreciation or regard for some of your constituents.
    With regards,
    Lisa M. Donnelly
    Stratford Taxpaying Resident

  13. To further some of the comments – there are people (such as Rich Fredette) who has been posting that people are just never going to be happy with anything that the Mayor/TC decides – specifically w/r/t Shakespeare property and will just continue to be negative. I don’t think this has been a matter of negativity. Honestly and bluntly – it’s not sour grapes, not negative and not sore losers. Rather, it’s a matter of distrust – at least from my point of view – because of the antics that continue to be played by members of the Harkins’ administration, including Town Council, and even people like you, who have been “placed” on committees where “hot topics” are discussed. I have absolutely no trust that the Harkins “players” want to see this succeed. Rich Fredette had plans drawn up long ago (I have it on good authority) for an “assisted living facility” on that property. So, it just feels like the game continues.

    He and Lou DeCilio were HAND PICKED for the Arts Commission and he was hand picked, along with Dave Fuller (an “amphitheatre boy”), Cas Mizera (speaker for the “silent majority”) AND Cas Mizera’s GIRLFRIEND – Peggy Noblin! OMG, if that doesn’t stink of political posturing to make sure things go the way they want them to I don’t know what does. I personally know how things work in this Town – it ALMOST affected my family but for a phone call to alert me of shenanigans. So, the timing of a change on the HDC – from what I have heard, in 2013, the question was posed by Marc Dillon about whether or not the term-expired members wanted to continue. They all wanted to continue serving on the HDC and it wasn’t until now – Monday, March 9, 2015 – over 15 months after that question, four of the members are being replaced. The timing is suspect – especially with the Center School/BOE/Colonial Square property being WANTED, not needed, in order to build Transit Oriented District housing. What then happens to Stratford Center? Since that area is in the historic district, I guess Harkins wants to ensure that there will be no problems with the HDC approving that use. Oh, and the hotel, etc. – it is just really weird of the choice of SSG, the deed restrictions that have surfaced on the deed of the Housatonic Yacht Club. It seems like a 132-room “Inn” is going to have a HUGE hurdle. But hey, prove me wrong. I want SSG to succeed, although I don’t think a 132-room “Inn” is a great idea. It’s not being negative, it’s just being very skeptical when looking at the whole picture. And, I’ve watched all of the games played for quite a long time.

    And, what’s going on in the “dead zone” – the area of Stratford Avenue between Sherwood and Honeyspot? Or that “dead zone” next to Cumberland Farms, the old Shakespeare Arms/Pepin’s property? Just curious.

  14. And what did Ms. Donnelly say about Irish women….. I’d take back Miron over Harkins any day after all of these shenanigans! Oh, and did I say I’m Irish!

  15. Other issues that can come into play are ethics and morals, oh wait were talking about Harkins and his stepford cronies….

  16. 16 jezebel282

    Lisa,

    “…unspoken rule of never to piss off an Irish woman……”

    We believe that it has been well documented actually.

    Just a minor difference in that we believe it will be Center School on the auction block, not the BOE Administration building. Who would want administrators in their neighborhoods anyway?

    But to review, this is what happens when you elect a 9-1 majority on the Council with a Tea Party mayor. No checks, no balances, no democracy.

    If only we had some Democrats in Town. You know, like an organization or something?

  17. Jez ~ I believe you are correct, the current Center School Building, but also the BOE building and Colonial Square property – which may include that whole run of stores which would include Hwang’s, et al. I bet the want that whole block! And, now that you have people being hand-picked to be on commissions such as the HDC, Arts Commission, etc., where will it stop? And two of the hand-picked are a couple which furthers the nepotism/cronyism behavior in this Town.

  18. 18 jezebel282

    Stop? It won’t. Not until residents & taxpayers become outraged that their assets are being sold off while their quality off life goes down and their taxes and fees go up.

    There are still hardworking taxpaying citizens who have no idea what the WPCA, HDC or TOD are. When they’re told they stare at you in disbelief and say, “They can’t do that. Can they?” Oh yes they can.

  19. Frankly, I’m one of the citizens sick and tired of people like the ones named above walking around with their cocky “I can do anything I want” attitudes. It’s just disgusting! We need to get rid of these people and work on getting honest, YES THEY DO EXIST, people to get Stratford back on track. Between Town Hall and the BOE, I’m not sure which is worse! They must all be drinking the same kool-aid!

  20. 20 jezebel282

    It’s not enough. You, Ms. Sperling, must run. We need you and people like you in office.

  21. They’d never let it happen! You know that! Honest people, people with Stratfordites best interests in heart and mind never survive – even if they get in. Look what they did to Matt!

  22. 22 jezebel282

    You mean elect him as councilman for three consecutive terms? Are you saying that you’re less credible than Lou Decilio or, say, Kubic? Run, willya?

  23. I agree she should run and I have been telling her that for a while now, just do it….

  24. 24 shanliss

    Everyone who reads this blog should consider running for Council, or voice support for someone else who is willing to run against this awful, awful group, who are both clueless and mean-spirited. Their only “successes” have come down from Hartford in the form of grants, curiously, from the other party. Well, someone has to help the people of Stratford, regardless of who gets to take credit…

  25. 26 jezebel282

    Ron,

    So how much worse is that compared to Harkins and his boys? At least Malloy isn’t having fire sales. Your link (if you follow it long enough) leads to proposed legislation, not law. It actually sounds not so bad except for a sentence that includes eminent domain as one of many options. With the exception of that option, it actually sounds pretty decent.

  26. How about all the “hand picked” placements on commissions to ensure things happen the way he wants them to! Geeze, how much more obvious can it be. Rich Fredette is on about six commissions – ZBA, HDA and ARTS -really? That’s not a conflict of interest?

    This administration is OUT OF CONTROL!

  27. 28 jezebel282

    Selling off one of the Town’s largest investments and assets without even a word until the trivial matter of an RTC vote takes place to make it “legal” is way out of control. Wouldn’t you say?

  28. Jez ~ I have way more colorful words but refrain from posting them!

  29. 30 shanliss

    Between the new budget, another tax increase and that WPCA sale of the sewer system, it’s not looking too good in Stratford. However this coming season: public hearing season, budget approval season, will be the ultimate test for Stratford citizens. If momentum builds after that, it could be an interesting summer. Could this Harkins-Council be run out of town?
    Who knows? Budnick bailed, and others might elect the lesser of two evils.
    The Mayor, by the way, is called to Hartford in a little over two weeks, to answer questions about that matter of the WPCA privatization…After that, Stratford Democracy will be put to the ultimate test: referendum petition. Ten years ago, residents embarked upon a “noble experiment,” whose carnage is all around us today. Time to do a little fixing up.

  30. 31 1cyclops

    Shanliss,
    Ten years ago was a long time ago. Different folks around now who don’t seem to have the “fire in the belly” and the dedication and hard work it takes to make a change. I hope I’m proven wrong, but I don’t think so.

  31. 1cyclops ~ not really different folks, all the same political players, just juggled around all over the place. Same faces on RTC, many of the same on DTC. Problem is – those old faces are many of the ones who have the stronghold on the others. The ones who force the kool-aid. Make ’em keep drinking till it tastes good.

    This Town’s administration needs a serious investigation. Hopefully there are calls being made to the new Corruption Task Force. If not, sheer stupidity on the residents’ part. There are MANY reasons to make the call.

  32. 33 jezebel282

    PCS,

    You mean like a proposed $108,000/year salary for the….wait for it…Economic Development Director?

  33. Are you flipping kidding me? We know there’s no Economic Development occurring in Stratford, so why are we paying for his Fringe Benefits?!!!!

  34. 35 jezebel282

    I am not kidding. Maybe it’s that “cost efficiency ” and thinking about the taxpayer that Harkins is thinking about. At least now we now why he has to steal all that money from the WPCA.

  35. 36 jezebel282

    Update:

    It looks like the Stratford Star has jumped on the RTC bandwagon and is doing what it can to promote the sale of the WPCA/Sewer plant.

    Melvin Mason’s last article in the Star (http://www.stratfordstar.com/34272/so-far-so-good/) was perhaps the most uncritical assessment of the sale since Harkins gave his State of the Town Address a couple of weeks ago.

    Try as he might, Mr. Mason still let a couple of actual numbers slip out.

    “…touting the removal of some $37 million in WPCA debt, an $11-million cash payment…”

    Did we forget that the WPCA/Sewer plant was upgraded to the tune of $61 million plus it’s value before the upgrade? Selling something for $48 million (Actually, it’s only $11 million. We know that they will use our hiked sewer fees to pay the $37 million over years. We’ll just put a different name on the check, won’t we?) that is potentially worth $100 million just doesn’t sound like a good deal to us.

    “Sidney Holbrook, executive director of the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority, says Stratford joining will be good for the town and the authority. The town will get dedicated professionals strictly focused on sewer service.”

    We already have 16 dedicated professionals that cost us 1/10th of the revenue taken in. To us, that is a good bargain all by itself. We wonder how many administrators and attorneys the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority has versus actual professionals?

    The more Harkins and his crew tout this sale the worse it sounds.

  36. 37 jezebel282

    Update:

    But don’t listen to us. Listen to a Council member who voted “yes”.

    “I was a member of the Hamden Legislative Council when Hamden sold its sewers. Moreover, I was the member of the Council who made it her business to follow the negotiations and advise the members of the Council. Here is what I recall.

    Hamden was in the RED; New Haven was in the RED. So the Mayors decided to raise revenue by selling assets. This is a common strategy in such cases.

    They sold their sewers to the newly founded GNHWPCA (abbreviated below as “the G”), as did a couple of neighboring towns.

    The G raised the money to buy the sewers by borrowing $54 million dollars – so citizens previously identified as taxpayers and sewer users became liable for taxes, sewer-use payments AND the borrowed money.

    The sale was a way of making the Mayors look good (by getting their towns out of the red) and, surreptitiously, borrowing $54 million that would be owed by sewer users but would not be reflected in the mil rates (or taxes) of the towns involved.

    So, clearly, this was a racket. BUT, and here’s the interesting part, I advised my colleagues on the Council to vote IN FAVOR of selling the sewers.

    WHY did I do that?

    I did it because without joining the G, we would have become clients of the G – having to pay for their services but NOT having a seat at their table.

    Now, at least, we have a seat at the table.

    I was totally disgusted by the way the whole episode played out. The taxpayers, as sewer users, were saddled with $54 million in new debt, plus their taxes and their sewer-use fees. The Mayors appeared, to the uninformed public, to smell like roses because they shifted the debt to the new G, away from the towns and away from “taxes” and got a large infusion of cash to prop up their town’s finances.

    And, when he ceased to be Mayor of Hamden, guess what, the ex-Mayor of Hamden got a job in the administration of the Mayor of New Haven.

    Makes you want to puke into the sewers, doesn’t it?

    Ann M. Altman Ph.D. (Hamden, CT)”

    Sound familiar?


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