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The Power Of Poop Back On Negotiating Table

March 31st, 2016 · 17 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Development and Zoning, News and Events


The rush of cash.

Now that Bridgeport and Trumbull are moving closer to settling sewer fee rate issues, the parties are contemplating discussions that could flush new revenue into their general funds: a regional sewer authority.

Discussions have been on and off for years and broke down in part because of hostile relations between then-Mayor Bill Finch and Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst. Finch is gone, defeated by Joe Ganim in a Democratic primary last September. The team Finch had in place to negotiate with Trumbull is gone too. Cooler heads could prevail in negotiating benefits for both communities.

State law exists that allows municipalities to enter into a regional authority. New Haven, for instance, has a regional authority with neighboring towns.

Trumbull has sewers, but no sewage treatment plant. Building its own treatment system would cost a fortune and a host of environmental issues. Trumbull’s waste is piped into Bridgeport where it is processed at the city’s West End sewer treatment system. This relationship goes back about 50 years during the construction of the Trumbull Shopping Park, developed by the Frouge Corporation, known today as Westfield Trumbull. Most of Trumbull is now sewer developed.

Bridgeport and Trumbull have been engaged in on-again, off-again, negotiations to create a regional sewer authority that could help the bottom line of both communities. A regional sewer authority would create a mini municipality that purchases the wastewater assets of the communities. Presto: millions of dollars for the municipalities. The town of Monroe, which has no sewers, could also be included in the regional authority. The problem becomes how much users are then charged to finance the assets purchased by the authority.

State legislative leadership such as House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Senate President Martin Looney also support regional approaches that benefit communities. It also opens additional Clean Water Act money to upgrade treatment facilities.


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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Bob Walsh

    So Jeff Kohut, what’s your take on team Ganim now? Isn’t he special?

  • Frank Gyure

    This is no surprise. Little Timmie Herbst was at Testo’s Restaurant when Ganim won the Democratic Primary and Little Timmie is a regular at Testo’s restaurant. He seems to like Mario’s sauce. Timmie did, in fact hate Bill Finch and did not like the prices at Finch’s restaurant. The question is, will Bridgeport get top dollar for taking Trumbull’s shit???

  • Andrew C Fardy

    I don’t know how this is going to work out but whatever board or authority, Bridgeport should have the highest number of delegates.

  • Bob Walsh

    The concept can work as it has elsewhere. The solution lies in all parties coming to the table agreeing to find a fair and equitable solution for all.
    The minute any party starts trying to pull a quick one over on the other, the process will fall apart.
    They need to agree upon an impartial third party to establish the value of the assets and the methodology of calculating fair rates going forward.

  • Booty

    The point you all seem to be missing is money doesn’t just appear out of thin air. That “windfall” for the assets is taking assets THE TAXPAYERS HAVE ALREADY PAID FOR and getting the taxpayers TO PAY FOR THEM AGAIN.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Andy and Bob, I think this is a real beginning to negotiations that should have been worked out a long time ago. I hope this works for all involved, and especially Bridgeport. I have a good feeling on this one.

  • Jimfox

    Get ready, Bridgeport!
    You don’t have to raise taxes, just charge every homeowner a User Fee if this Authority comes to pass!

    Here’s an example of what’s to come when you create a Tri-City Waste Management Authority folks!

    The purpose of the Bridgeport Waste Management Authority (BWMA) is to provide environmentally sound management for the collection and disposal of solid waste including the operation and wastewater collection, transport, treatment, and disposal in the Territory. The BWMA reserves the right to determine the type(s) of solid waste services and type(s) of wastewater services offered in different geographical areas of the BWMA.

    . “Annual Wastewater User Fees” means the annual service charge, expressed as an Equivalent Residential Unit, imposed for the use and services of the wastewater treatment facilities. “Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU)” means the unit of measurement applied to determine the base fee to be charged to Residential and Commercial users, the number of units of which is varied on the basis of anticipated volume and strength of sewage treated by the System.

    . “Building” means any bui1ding or structure heretofore or hereafter constructed and designed for dwelling or commercial purposes: either temporary or permanent, occupied by one, or more persons, and which connects directly or indirectly to the System.

    . “Non-Residential User” means use of the System by a single business, professional, industrial, governmental, religious, or other entity, other than residential user, in a building occupied by one or more of such commercial users, without regard to the number of connections to the System by a single commercial user.

    . “Residential User” means the use of the System by a single person, family, or other living unit in a building used for single or multi-family dwelling purposes without regard to the number of connections to the System used by that single person, family, or living unit regardless of number of bedrooms, bathrooms or square feet.

    . “System” means the network of sewer lines, interceptors, wastewater treatment facilities and all appurtenances thereto, owned and operated by the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority for the purpose of collecting, transporting, and treating sewage generated by users of the System.

    . User Classifications: The annual charge for an Equivalent Residential Unit has been established by assessing actual costs for operation and maintenance, including replacement, and by determining the total number of ERUs on the System. An ERU is a unit of service defined in accordance with and in proportion to the volume, strength, and delivery flow of sewage to be treated.

    . Owners of Residential Properties: The owner of every building which contains sanitary facilities connected to the public sewer system and is used as a private dwelling unit shall pay to the Department of Finance an annual Wastewater User Fee for the use of the public sewer system based on the number of dwelling units connected to the System. A dwelling unit is defined as a living unit such as an apartment house or condominium. Each dwelling unit shall be charged for one (1) ERU. For example, a private home with a studio apartment for rental would be assessed at two (2) ERUs.

    . Owners of Non-Residential Properties: The owner of every building which contains sanitary or any other facilities connected to the public sewer system and is used as a commercial or professional establishment or for any purpose other than a private dwelling unit shall pay to the Department of Finance an annual Wastewater User Fee for the use of the public sewer system for each commercial, professional, or other establishment occupying said building.

    Such fees are based on the number of ERUs connected to the System. Any and all such commercial, professional, or other establishments shall be charged for one (1) Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU).

  • Phil Smith

    Contrary to the suggestions of some Trumbull politicians, there is no need or justification for the terms of this arrangement to be kept secret until it has been fully approved. On the contrary, Bridgeport taxpayers are entitled to know what’s being proposed; whether they will continue to subsidize Trumbull users; and both the short- and long-term cost of the deal.

    If Mayor Ganim is unable or unwilling to provide that kind of transparency the City Council should insist on it.

  • Frank Gyure

    Personally speaking, I don’t feel good about this. Timmie Herbst is going to get a good deal.

  • Jeff Kohut

    In Fairfield County, “regionalism” is defined as “the use of Bridgeport’s infrastructure, free of charge or at a heavily discounted rate, for the purpose of advancing the suburban tax base and lifestyle options while at the same time rendering Bridgeport politically and economically less viable and incapable of competing as a municipality.”

    For Bridgeport, “regionalism” is spelled S-T-U-P-I-D.

    The Ganim Administration must not allow itself to be coerced into any regional sewer deals. Trumbull must be made to pay for its sewer treatment services. This is Bridgeport’s asset and we shouldn’t be sharing it with competing municipalities for any price. Trumbull should be put on notice they need to account for all their infrastructure needs, or that they need to share the proceeds of their tax base 50-50 with Bridgeport. Monroe should not be in the picture at all. Truly; if municipalities need our infrastructure, they should be prepared to be annexed and become part of Bridgeport.

    If Bridgeport is coerced into any contraindicated regional deals, there will have to be multiple class-action law suits to derail these deals. There are many areas of Trumbull’s relationship with Bridgeport that are ripe for lawsuit action.

    Surely, the Ganim Administration is too focused on the improvement of Bridgeport’s economic prospects than to walk itself into a minefield of potential lawsuits for the benefit of a suburban municipality that has shown nothing but disrespect and disdain for its urban benefactor.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Bridgeport residents can get ready for a shit sandwich when this deal is over.

  • Donald Day

    Where does the State Senate race enter into this sudden cooperation and their desire to do what’s best for both? Politics are based on quid pro quo, right?

  • Jeff Kohut

    Most appropriate question, Donald. Whichever candidates need Bridgeport votes should be coming out on the right side of this from a Bridgeport perspective. Bridgeporters are very wary of Trumbull–and “regionalism,” generally (and not without very good reason).

  • Ron Mackey

    Follow the money.

  • John Marshall Lee

    As Ron accurately indicates, FTM!
    I have not looked at this specific deal and wonder where it has been stated OPENly, in a TRANSPARENT presentation, so ACCOUNTABILITY will not be in question.
    During the Finch administration a “regional” deal was sought and the wonderful mathematics that came out of it was the potential for $40 Million to be paid by a newly created REGIONAL WPCA that would have bonding authority backed by taxing authority. If something like that is in the works, spit it out, because we are thus holding a yard sale with our sewage and water treatment facilities including pipelines up for sale. What price is assumed for the sale of our assets? What about Trumbull’s miles of pipeline, etc. that is newer than our underground assets?

    Trumbull residents have had to pay a fee for using our system as well as for the additional expenses incurred for system components in their community for some years now, as is reasonable.

    But where is the commentary from the public about the 35% rate increase in the past two years? And the increased drumbeat on homeowners who, when delinquent on WPCA payment for a short time and less than $1000 are foreclosed upon? Do we have a good model ongoing for management of such serious issues? Time will tell.

  • Godiva2011

    Albeit regionalization seems to make sense, keep in mind the Ganims and the Herbsts are family friends.

  • Mojo

    *** The Water Pollution Co. that Bpt homeowners already pay on a quarterly basis is almost as much as the incoming water from the Aquarion Water Co. on a quarterly basis. “IT’S HIGH!” And this Regional Water Co. idea sounds like an even higher bill to come in the near future for taxpayers! ***

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