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City Reaches Tax Settlement With Trash-To-Energy Plant

February 22nd, 2017 · 7 Comments · City Budget, Development and Zoning, News and Events

Wheelabrator

File photo of Wheelabrator facility fronted by employees.

The city has resolved a 10-year assessment battle with Wheelabrator Bridgeport, the waste-to-energy facility in Bridgeport’s West End serving 25 municipalities in three Connecticut counties. The settlement ends a tax appeal lawsuit that made its way through various state courts in which Wheelabrator asserted a “grossly inflated valuation that the city simply fabricated.” For background see here. The issue dates back to the mayoral administration of John Fabrizi.

Under the terms of the agreement, according to a news release issued by the city, the settlement provides the company with refunds in the form of future tax credit adjustments per year. These tax credits total between $1 and $2 million per year against future tax bills, over the next decade, representing refunds based upon revised real and personal property assessments covering the past eight years.

According to city officials involved in the negotiations, the settlement eliminates possible court sanctions to pay tens of millions of dollars immediately, ending a long-standing tax appeal lawsuit dating back to grand list 2007.

Both sides say the settlement is a fair and equitable resolution of this large tax appeal lawsuit, thus ending all litigation.

“The City Attorney’s Office and Finance Office are satisfied to have reached this resolution with a longstanding, vital Bridgeport business,” said Mayor Joe Ganim, in a statement. “The settlement is structured so that the City will not need to issue bonds for this settlement, nor have a large significant impact upon the City’s finances in any year.”

“Wheelabrator is pleased to have reached what we see as a fair settlement with the City of Bridgeport and a good outcome for both parties” said Wheelabrator Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Alan Dunlea. “Wheelabrator Bridgeport is one of the largest and most important facilities in our fleet, and for nearly 30 years, we have been proud to provide a local waste disposal solution for Bridgeport and the surrounding area, delivering 67 megawatts of clean, renewable energy. We are committed to maintaining a strong working relationship with our host community of Bridgeport and continuing our strong partnership with the City.”

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Bob Walsh

    Whoa, there.
    This a a great settlement?
    The settlement eliminates the need to pay tax settlements totaling tens of million dollars immediately!
    The settlement does not require the city to BOND to pay this amount!
    The settlement allows the city to avoid paying millions in any one year!
    The settlement allows the city to pay the money back by giving tax breaks between $1 – $2 million a year over the next decade!
    Lipstick on a pig?

  • John Marshall Lee

    We have had 10 years of dispute over values. Legal expenses all over the place, and the City has lost something, but negotiated to something else that may be harder to see or understand.
    Questions: How much in legal expenses has this cost the City from the beginning?
    What “difficult to assess” valuation have the two sides agreed to for 2017 and how much of a decrease does that do to the Taxable Grand List? Is it a stable value (assuming no changes to the property or equipment) or does it change?
    What is the credit for future taxes over the next decade given to Wheelabrator to get them to settle at this point? How close to $20 Million?
    Are there any other fiscal kickers in the agreement, inasmuch as the City has been aware for years that their own experts, paid by taxpayer funds, could not support the ORIGINAL VALUATION? Why did it take so long for this sun to rise and shine?
    Will the City cut back its budget over the next decade to protect taxpayers or are we expected to make up for City Hall incompetence and intransigence? Time will tell.

  • Bob Walsh

    This was a scam since day one. It was the work of the tax assessor at the time. He grossly inflated that value of the plant and said they would come to the bargaining table.
    They came with bags of cash. Unfortunately it was our cash not theirs. And all they did was agree to spread it over a decade but charged us interest for it.
    No John, the city will not cut back on its obligations. The taxpayers are so dumb, they will think they got a great deal.
    ONLY IN BRIDGEPORT!

  • Ron Mackey

    The City’s effort to run over Wheelabrator has backfired big time. The City knew from the beginning they were wrong.

  • Jeff Kohut

    This is the tip of the iceberg of a much larger issue involving the general “regional development philosophy” that determines the location of obtrusive, taxbase-devaluing, polluting, otherwise undesirable, REGION-SERVING infrastructure foisted upon Bridgeport by the Gold Coast/suburbs for the furtherance of their prosperity/comfort at our expense.

    If the real costs of hosting Wheelabrator-type infrastructure were assessed in terms of quality of life/environmental impact on the local neighborhoods/Bridgeport populace, the opportunity costs of using the land on which the facility is located, THE DEVALUATION OF THE SURROUNDING TAX BASE, the supply-demand aspect of obtaining appropriately located land [in terms of transportation and services access (what other municipality in the region would host an incinerator-plant accepting a constant stream of garbage-laden, diesel-powered tractor-trailers from 25 surrounding (wealthy) towns through local neighborhoods adjacent to a Seaside Park gem?!)] then the tax assessment should have been several times higher than the contested assessment!!!

    Was a reputable economic land-use expert, a land-use economist, or even the State Office of Fiscal Analysis brought in to analyze the real costs to the city of hosting this disgusting, polluting, environmental/taxbase albatross? Or, since the assessment is based on simplistic (stupid) general, statutory, municipal taxation guidelines, was the value of property (adjacent to an ocean-side park in Connecticut) properly figured into the assessment?

    Looks like “the region,” through a rigged legal system/incompetent judiciary, “had their way” with Bridgeport once again.

    Truly: state statute governing tax assessments and special levies by municipalities must be changed so socially/environmentally/economically abused cities such as Bridgeport can at least get economic justice out of the environmental racism that directs Wheelabrator-type operations to Bridgeport.

    Bridgeport was screwed once again by a wheeler(abrator)-dealer in a rigged deal.

    Where is our state delegation in addressing the statutory issues of taxation that allow entities owning harmful (Wheelabrator-type) development forced on Bridgeport to get away with tax discounts that cost the righteous residential and businesses taxpayers of Bridgeport $millions in addition to other $un-assessable costs in city/neighborhood image and psychological well-being?

    A stupid, ridiculous, immoral settlement foisted upon the people of Bridgeport. We were just economically molested in an “unprotected” manner without the benefit of proper legal recourse in a situation of state-sanctioned abuse.

    This is why Bridgeport can never get out from under.

    (And one would think that with all the REGIONAL, economically/environmentally destructive, power generation and power supply infrastructure located in Bridgeport, that Bridgeport ratepayers could at least get a big discount on their electric utility rates.)

    This is just one more footnote that can go into the next edition of “Only In Bridgeport” about the saga of Bridgeport’s municipal descent.

  • Michael Bottillo

    Wow.

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