Talk about the shit hitting the fan. The three-town sewage deal that appears to be ironed out by the chief elected officials of Bridgeport, Trumbull and Monroe could face a showdown between Mayor Bill Finch and the City Council with Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa fanning the flames.
Discussions between Finch and Trumbull’s Ray Baldwin and Monroe’s Tom Buzi continued on Monday brokered by Paul Timpanelli, head of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. Bridgeport will receive roughly $5 million in tax revenue front-loaded over a three-year period with no tax payments thereafter for allowing Monroe sewage access into Trumbull that’s hooked into the city’s sewage treatment system.
Developer extraordinaire Bob Scinto is building a new Jewish Home for the Elderly in Monroe that’s expected to pump some 85,000 gallons of wastewater a day. Both Monroe and Trumbull have asked for larger capacity flows that could attract additional commercial development to their towns.
This deal represents the first of its kind in the state, with Bridgeport serving as the recipient of the wastewater flow from suburban neighbors sharing tax revenue from the project. Trumbull and Monroe do not have sewage treatment plants. The city has systems in both the East End and West End.
Mayor Finch desperately wants the moolah to help close a deficit of more than $10 million nearly six months into the budget year with another major gap between revenues and expenses projected for the new budget year July 2009. But some business and political interests including former Mayor John Fabrizi and Testa who wields influence on the City Council (that must approve the pact) believe it’s a crappy deal for the city.
They cite the front-loaded deal that former Mayor Lenny Paoletta cut more than 20 years ago–allowing the entire region to dump in Bridgeport’s West End garbage facility–as an example of Bridgeport leaving tens of millions on the table.
It appears Finch will need to schmooze Testa, who’s already been working council members, about the necessity to pass this deal. Testa wants the suburbs to eat shit. He’s not crazy about the suburbs sending the city more of its crap.
And former Mayor Fabs is weighing in on a city issue for the first time since leaving office just over a year ago. (Initial discussions on this deal predate Finch’s mayoralty.) Fabs says the deal he had discussed with Scinto included a lifelong revenue stream.
See a statement Fabs released to the media below:
Don’t forget, OIB party at Two Boots, Wednesday at 5:30!
John Fabrizi Statement
You are in the driver’s seat, stay there!
Recently, there have been a number of newspaper articles regarding Bridgeport opening up its sewage capacity to both Trumbull and Monroe. Much has been going back and forth regarding the added capacity and its impact on our current filtering stations.
To my knowledge, Bridgeport can handle the added capacity, but the question lays to what extent? How much more can we handle? What is the maximum the current plants can handle? What do we handle today? How much more capacity can we add for out of towners before we feel the pinch? How much more development can we do in Bridgeport for the current plants to handle before we must upgrade our plants at Bridgeport taxpayers expense? The answers to these questions are as follows:
Bridgeport’s 2 sewage plants can handle a maximum capacity of 30 million gallons of sewage on a dry day. Currently, Bridgeport is processing a little over 22.5 million gallons of sewage on a dry day. One must take into consideration though that on rainy days the flow is greater and once you reach 85% capacity on a daily basis, you have to start the designing for the upgrade of a new plant.
For the record, the east-side plant would be the plant processing the development of Steelpointe, and currently the East Side plant can handle this potential development with capacity left to spare. The West Side plant is the plant that will be processing any additional sewage flow from Trumbull and Monroe. It’s been estimated that the new Monroe development would generate 85,000 gallons of sewage daily. Obviously, we can handle this but a request for any additional flow would have to come back to Bridgeport for additional approvals and rate structure. If Bridgeport grants additional flow capacity now, Bridgeport’s giving away its right to get its fair share for the future. Haven’t we learned from the garbage to energy contract 20 years ago?
Now, here’s where the driving comes in. Without Bridgeport’s approval to grant additional capacity to Trumbull, then Monroe, there is no new project of this magnitude in Monroe. Everything stays the same. The bottom line is, that Bridgeport is in the driver’s seat. What are the benefits to Trumbull and Monroe? For Trumbull, a new development in the future that will not need Bridgeport’s approval for additional capacity because the approval would have been given already.
For Monroe, a brand-new development worth $77 million, construction jobs, permit fees, and about $15 million annually in new property taxes. The ONLY way that a project of this magnitude can happen in Monroe is with Bridgeport’s agreement to accept Monroe’s sewage, and for that Bridgeport must play landlord and charge an annual fee … forever.
That fee should be based on a percentage of annual tax dollars collected by Monroe on this new development. One can argue about the percentage of newly generated tax dollars to be paid to Bridgeport; is 33% fair, how about 25%, or 20% or even 10%? At the very least Bridgeport should realize a minimum of 10% which would equate to approximately $1.5 million dollars annually paid to the City of Bridgeport … forever.
Now that’s truly in the spirit of regional cooperation. And being that taxes really do not go down, this annual user fee, and Monroe’s tax revenue would only rise in future years to come. Now, that’s fair, because without Bridgeport processing Monroe’s sewage from this new development, there is no new project of this magnitude, no new construction jobs, no new permanent jobs, no new personal property taxes that only Monroe would receive, no new $13.5 million dollars in real estate property taxes for Monroe (after Bridgeport receives its fair share of 10%), and no new boost in Monroe’s local economy by having all of these new workers, construction and permanent, visit Monroe’s gas stations, food establishments, retailers, etc. … Anything less would be a mistake. A mistake that we should have learned from in the garbage to energy contract that Bridgeport signed for $3 million up front which cost the City tens of millions of millions of dollars in the long run.
Bridgeport, stay in the driver’s seat, collect a user fee on an annual basis and don’t settle for anything less. By doing so, you’ll end up in the passenger’s seat and just be taken for a ride!
Do the math, weigh the benefits and keep driving!
John M. Fabrizi
News release from Mayor Finch
City Chooses Gaffney, Bennett as State Lobbying Firm
BRIDGEPORT, CT (December 15, 2008) – The City has selected the lobbying firm of Gaffney, Bennett and Associates to acts as its state legislative lobbyist–awarding a one-year contract for $55,000, subject to council approval.
The contract with Gaffney, Bennett and Associates will be discussed at the Contracts Committee this evening. If passed by the committee, it may be referred from the floor for a vote at tonight’s City Council meeting.
A request for proposals was initiated by the City Attorney’s office and the subsequent RFP was advertised on the city’s BidSync system for three weeks. A total of eight applicants responded and were interviewed by the RFP committee.
The group was narrowed down to three finalists, and of the three, Gaffney, Bennett was strongest bipartisan firm. The firm also has strong contacts with both Governor Rell and the legislative leadership in both Houses.
“We are confident that Gaffney, Bennett can provide us with the the kind of across-the-aisle lobbying efforts that we need at the State House,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “Their bipartisan approach and track record of success will be key in helping Bridgeport to continue to secure funding and support in this volatile economic period we are encountering.”
Robinson and Cole Government Relations had previously acted as the City’s lobbying firm with a contract of $50,000.
Background on Gaffney, Bennett and Associates
Founded in 1984, Gaffney, Bennett and Associates is perennially rated one of the top political consulting, lobbying, government relations firms in Connecticut by officials in all three branches of government, on both sides of the aisle, and by industry peers. The lobbying firm, located in New Britain, CT , has excelled for over a decade in making the voices of its clients known to the decision makers in D.C. and CT. The Connecticut firm’s eight full-time lobbyists and lawyers bring to the table decades of experience in government and politics at the local, state and federal levels. It is this breadth of experience, combined with our command of the process, ability to forge alliances, reach decision makers, and manage crises, that is the underpinning of Gaffney, Bennett and Associates’ unsurpassed record of success.