A new state law shepherded by Senator Marilyn Moore authorizes the Bridgeport City Council to lower the interest rate imposed by collection practices of the Water Pollution Control Authority that has come under criticism for abusive collection action. The law passed on the last day of the legislative session on Wednesday. It now goes to Governor Dan Malloy for signing. The law protects delinquent “consumers from unfair and abusive water pollution control authority proceedings and charges.” See bill here that was co-signed by State Rep. Steve Stafstrom. An amendment was added, according to Moore, that places the WPCA under the authority of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. “This would end the foreclosure on properties,” she says.
“I will not stand for city homeowners being targeted and having their lives destroyed so the WPCA can profit at their expense,” Moore said prior to the bill’s passage. “Even more troubling, the foreclosures seem to disproportionately affect African-Americans, Latinos, senior, veterans, and low-income people in the Bridgeport area. People should be given an honest chance to pay their sewer bills.”
The City Council’s Ordinance Committee, with pro bono guidance from retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez, is pushing for collection reforms. Municipal lawyers that enforce collection action on behalf of the WPCA have cited interest rate authority granted by state law. The bill, if signed by the governor, will empower Bridgeport’s legislative body to adopt an ordinance to “lower the interest rate charged by such municipality on delinquent sewer assessments.”
Language from the bill:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General
Section 1. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2018) Notwithstanding the provisions of any special act, municipal charter or ordinance to the contrary, each municipality shall adopt an ordinance, if applicable, to protect seniors, veterans and low-income families from water pollution control authority foreclosures by restricting accelerated foreclosure proceedings for past due sewer fees owed by any such person. For purposes of this section, “municipality” means any town, city, consolidated town and city or consolidated town and borough.
Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2018) Notwithstanding the provisions of any special act, municipal charter or ordinance to the contrary, any municipality may adopt an ordinance, if applicable, to lower the interest rate charged by such municipality on delinquent sewer assessments.
Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2018) Notwithstanding the provisions of any special act, municipal charter or ordinance to the contrary, any municipality may adopt an ordinance, if applicable, to restrict assignees of water pollution control authorities from purchasing foreclosed properties and to establish financial guidelines that trigger foreclosure for nonpayment of fees.