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Residential Sewer Fee Goes Up $95

Stratford town officials approve 34 percent hike to residential sewer use fee.

Despite significant opposition from residents, town officials Tuesday approved a $95 increase to the town's .

The 34 percent hike brings a Stratford homeowner's annual sewer bill from $280 to $375.

The increase is needed to help pay for a $4.2 million deficit in the Water Pollution Control Authority Fund, according to , the town's chief administrative officer.

Nocera told the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) -- which consists of all Town Council members -- that the hike would cut the deficit in half and lowering the proposed increase would further deplete town savings.

The deficit is there in large part to an already completed $60 million upgrade to Stratford's sewer treatment plant.

Nocera added that not approving the $95 increase could lead to a poor credit rating for the town.

The WPCA approved the hike by a 7-to-3 vote. Council members John Dempsey (R-5), Matt Catalano (R-3) and Stephanie Philips (D-2) voted against the increase.

'Struggling to put food on the table'

During the public hearing prior to the vote, ten residents denounced the proposed increase. Several said it's unfair to people -- especially senior citizens -- who live on fixed incomes.

"I think it's absolutely outrageous," said Eleanor Burke. "The true fact is people only have a certain about of money to spend."

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One of those fighting to make ends meet is Eleanor Street resident Betty Mathis. "I'm a senior citizen," she said. "I'm struggling to put food on the table."

Mathis said she didn't think it "right" to approve a and then and the residential sewer rate by $95.

Bertha Pesano said the $95 increase is too much for seniors. Annette Christian said the $95 could go toward groceries or another bill.

Diane Buda said the town's high taxes and fees are forcing people out of Stratford.

'We have to swallow this pill'

Nocera said over the last five years there has only been one $30 increase to the residential sewer fee for Stratford homeowners.

He said the average rate for other towns and cities in the county, excluding Stratford, is $460. The average annual sewer fee for adjacent towns in 2011 was $392, Nocera added.

"We have to swallow this pill, take our medicine," he said.

George E. Mulligan June 03, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Mr. Budnick and Ms. Philips, I appreciate you posting your opinions based on the facts as presented to you, the way Mr. Nocera stated he can only work with the information he was given. Bob Sammis, myself, and Tom Angelo worked on 8 January police Pensions which included the highest Pension ever and they averaged $ 21,000 over base pay. The Administration controlled the information. Tom Angelo got the information he requested and did most of the work. Neither Bob Sammis nor I got the information we requested. We each spoke at Public Forum and repudicated the inclusion of the term "NO DECERNIBLE WRONG DOING" after it was voted out of the FINAL REPORT. The chairman walk out of that Meeting, because we destroyed his credibility since we were 2/3 of the subcommittee. He was rescheduled for 2 weeks later. Three days before he was to speak, my tire was slashed parked right in from of a busy club. - I was playing a video game when I overheard STRANGER state "That dude just slashed someone's tire." I saw who it was and knew his family and politics. When I left and turned the corner, I found out whose tire was slashed. I live less than a mile away. AAA next day & replace tire & balance $ 150. It's expected. I reported it to the Stratford Police who falsified my report, taking the name of the suspect out of the report. That Monday the Chairman spoke. Within 4 months Mr. Sammis moved out of state. Lifetime resident. His dad was a town Manager
George E. Mulligan June 03, 2012 at 04:05 AM
ENRON was a HUGE company in the LATE 1990s. Early 2000s, their books were COOKED. Their STOCK PRICE went STRAIGHT DOWN. Their AUDITOR was ARTHUR ANDERSON of Hartford. Within months ARTHUR ANDERSON also was completely destroyed. Maybe 1-2 years later, after 9/11 & USA invaded IRAQ which had NO W M D ... ARTHUR ANDERSON was found innocent of any WRONG DOING!! ENRON gave AUDITORS the FIGURES on which they AUDITED & made their recommendations. like Stratford -- I BELIEVE Mr Kubic is bought & paid for as a Lawyer, who will NEVER EXPOSE TRUTH about PENSIONS, BENEFITS, & BUDGETS. I BELIEVE Mr Poisson is bought & paid for as a Teacher, who will NEVER EXPOSE TRUTH about PENSIONS, BENEFITS, & BUDGETS. I BELIEVE Mr Hoydic is bought & paid for as his family also gets government pay as an insider, who will NEVER EXPOSE TRUTH about PENSIONS, BENEFITS, & BUDGETS. Mr. Barnaby's mom is a relatively recently retired Teacher. HR professionals like Mr. Connors & Mr. Cabrol are more difficult to find direct & indirect linkage. When it comes to voting, some past Councilors would pass or find themselves in the position they could vote a pretend vote, because the measure was already passed, so they could "posture" in order for them to get re-elected. Stephanie, Jason, Dempsey represent poored constituencies. Republicans never run anyone in 2nd & rarely in 4th to keep overall votes down. DTC Chair Burturla highest PAID lawyer, hired by RTC elected?
George E. Mulligan June 03, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Stratford Demographics census of 2010,: 51,384 people, 20,095 households, and 13,614 families residing in the town. There were 21,091 housing units + add 500 Shelton units = 21,591 @ $ 280 & @ $ 375 = A) $ 6,045,480 B) $ 8.096,625 I believe there were about 4,000 to 4,500 businesses? Yet to confirm. Although higher sewer fees for business I will multiply 4,000 x $ 280 / x $ 375 A) $ 1,120,000 B) $ 1,500,000 If A is rate of $ 280 & B is rate of $ 375: A) $ 6,045,480 + A) $ 1,120,000 = $ 7,165,480 B) $ 8.096,625 + B) $ 1,500,000 = $ 9,596,525 If a Mil is $ 4.5 million, then new rate = over 2 Mils Revenue. I suspect a bunch of people don't pay sewer fees at all? The online BUDGET is very difficult to access information, which I believe is likely intentional
Jezebel282 June 03, 2012 at 03:27 PM
George, Forget it. Actual numbers nor reality makes a difference. Obviously, Mr. Budnick and the other 6 Council members don't care. As Mr. Budnick has already stated, they "judge the Mayor's team to be honestly presenting the evidence as they saw fit.". Done. Why bother even reading it?
Jim Ravis June 03, 2012 at 03:36 PM
For sure. In all cases OJ, budget and sewer they got away with "murder". How ironic Mr. Budnick equates his position as councilman to being on the OJ jury.
Craig Budnick June 03, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Did i forget to mention the part where there is still a deficit even with the $95 increase. But feel to keep mocking which is all most of you know. Maybe you missed that Jezebel?
Jezebel282 June 03, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Mr. Budnick, I am sorely tempted to ask how you can tell since you are not an accountant. Wait, did I just ask that? Perhaps if you eliminated the $1.35 million in arbitrary expense and had the guts to put it in the mill rate where it belongs. But then you would have to accept accountability for raising the mill rate, wouldn't you? As for mocking you, I would suggest you provide more intelligent and thoughtful responses than your example above.
Craig Budnick June 03, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Then I will make this my last statement on the Patch. Coming here to look for intelligent conversation is a joke. This is why my predecessor a democrat and fellow republicans told me it was a complete waste of time......they were right.
Jim Ravis June 03, 2012 at 05:40 PM
"I see!", said the Blind Man when he couldn't see at all.
Walt June 03, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Please explain the necessity of the council? Exactly what is their purpose? And the OJ jury was a collection of dolts and dullards who nullified all the evidence presented to them.
Jezebel282 June 03, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Mr. Budnick, If you wish intelligent conversation then I strongly suggest that you post intelligent comments. Perhaps reading Stephanie Philips' posts might help you form some coherent thoughts.
Craig Budnick June 03, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Ok....one last thought. Other than complain on the Patch, I am looking forward to you all providing a list of what you have done to make this town a better place.
Jezebel282 June 03, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Mr. Budnick, Really? How childish can you get? As soon as you start providing explanations for your votes that are credible, I'll be glad to provide an extensive list for you.
George E. Mulligan June 04, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Mr. Budnick, I believe you and others admit there have been past irregularities. Republicans control Town Council, Board Of Ed. and Zoning which each are the Legislative of the Town The first two control Budgets, the purse. Zoning affects the purse. I repectfully ask Jezebel and others not to chase away a Councilman who is actually willing to dialog. I ask Jezebel & Mr. Budnick to POST the REVENUES from the Budget and to compare actuals to the realistically projected. I strongly suspect Mr. Budget would conceed the BUDGETS are LIES. Mr. Budnick has signed the Budget and has Fiduciary obligation. There are and have been a few people who are honorable and/or well intended who have been elected. Many have been sicked by what they learned. I would be glad to list what I have done for others and the town, except critics would claim I was bragging or egotisical ...
Laura Dobosz June 04, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Oh Dear. I am a supporter of Mr. Budnick but this time, I truly have to agree with Jez. (those who know me, pick yourselves up off the floor.) Sorry Craig, but that OJ response WAS sort of weak. You DO have an obligation to respond and be accountable to both your constituents and basically ALL residents of Stratford. I would hope that Council members look beyond just their own voting pool when making decisions. You may not be an accountant but it is my humble opinion that when asked very direct questions by residents of the town, be it here or elsewhere, you should then consult someone who CAN help you answer the question. Elected officials are ELECTED. That very concept means it is their JOB, that they swore in to do, to be accountable to the taxpayers of Stratford. I have seen many threads on Stratford blogs get nasty over the years. While some of the comments made to you could have been left out, they are hardly as bad as it can get and I do not see that as a reason for you to "sign off" for good. This is an excellent forum for communication between town gov and the people and unlike other blogs, is monitored for appropriate posting. Your "half answer" to the above questions and then decision to "run" really disappoints me. I personally know you are better than that and capable of much more. That is why I supported you although I typically vote Democratic.
Jezebel282 June 04, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Paradise, "unlike other blogs" Harumph!
Laura Dobosz June 04, 2012 at 03:09 PM
tee hee Jez. I say it with love. Hey, you DO monitor George. Perhaps the mods here might want to look into that. ;)
Craig Budnick June 04, 2012 at 04:01 PM
To the Patch readers: Thank you George for your support. First of all, I do not know who Jezebel is or if they are a Stratford Resident so I owe that person absolutely nothing in terms of an explanation. I am sorry that everyone became so fixated on my OJ example and needed to mock it and call it weak. I think it is a great example of how citizen jurors like citizen legislators are asked to judge evidence or a budget that they are not experts in. I would suggest since this budget was produced by the Mayor's office that a detailed explanation of the $1.35 Million transfer to the General Fund be given by Mr. Nocera (who already explained this during the public session). I can not control the fact that many of you do not except his explanation, I did and therefore voted for the increase. What I find ironic is that the Patch is taken to be the voice of the Stratford Taxpayer. I will once again point out that between the budget meeting and sewer increase public hearings that less than 40 people came out....I will not bother doing the math on what a small percentage of our population that is and I did NOT get a single phone call or email on the sewers. Those numbers make me no less accountable however it is a true measure of the level of interest as opposed to several Patch readers. I would have no problem attempting to continue conversation out here if I thought there would be a benefit to the residents. (continued below)
Laura Dobosz June 04, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Correct me if I am wrong folks, but I do believe in the last Mayoral election in Stratford at least one of the candidates up for election lost by less than 40 votes. I believe their were two candidates losing by a very small margin, actually. Just sayin'. No number is too small when it comes to the voting population.
Jezebel282 June 04, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Let's just say I follow Stratford events very closely from here in South Dakota. I do not have enough of an ego to expect you to respond to me, but nevertheless I have given you an opportunity to express yourself to other Stratford residents. Or do they need to post their driver's license before you respond? You are somehow missing the same point over and over again. The Town (through the Council) is charging the WPCA $1.35 million in artificial fees thereby incurring a "cost" to the WPCA. If every penny of that $1.35 million goes right into the General Fund, please explain how that is not a tax? The problem becomes that certain residents (those who are connected to the WPCA facility) are bearing a heavier burden of the budget than anyone else.
Jim Ravis June 04, 2012 at 04:32 PM
If it wasn't for the fear of retribution, I am sure more people would physically show up at these meetings. As it is, I am already getting flak from a Town Republican for showing up at the White House rally.
Craig Budnick June 04, 2012 at 04:34 PM
(continued) As I try and budget my time between my family, job, work for Sterling House and many Council and committee meetings.....how much time should I spend addressing anonymous writers that I am not sure are even Stratford Residents? If you are 7th District resident and do not like my votes you will be allowed to get rid of me in November 2013. If we are going to have conversation than it should be honest. 3 people voted against the fee increase and I have good working relationships with all of them. Matt whose tenacity I admire for his efforts on Shakespeare and the Mayor are currently in a battle and will be unlikely to find middle ground on many topics in the near future. Stephanie who does a great job representing her district will also not agree with the Mayor too often. As for her idea of a $50 increase....that is a difference of $3.75 a month from the current plan, so safe to say that Stephanie agreed with the concept of an increase. The only person who seemed to only represent their district on just the issue that voted no was John. I will continue to engage when possible....but I still look forward to anyone providing me with a list of what they have done to help make this a better place other than complain on the Patch. I did not get into Politics to personally benefit myself or my family or the Republican Party (which frequently disagree)....only to make Stratford better. Craig Budnick 7th District Town Council
Craig Budnick June 04, 2012 at 04:56 PM
All: This is my point.....the sarcastic tone of many Patch writers. I would love to see at least a voter reg card so I know I am not wasting my time with anonymous people. As for your labeling them artificial fees....this was the Mayor's Budget and Steve Nocera's explanation not mine. I chose to find them acceptable, any Stratford resident who does not is free to address Town Hall. No person is too small, however please do not mistake Patch feedback for resident opinion. As for the concern about retribution, I have already gone through that myself. Apparently I am being promised a job by supporting Matt on Shakespeare votes. I sure hope it is a high paying job with good benefits.....but that would require the 501C or the theater to exist as employers to be true. I can not control retribution from others.....what I can control is going to these meetings and representing the 7th as best and as honestly as I can. But I am still curious who will be the first Patch contributor anonymous or not to let us all know what they have done to make Stratford better.....and please be specific. Craig
George E. Mulligan June 04, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Craig, You are welcomed for my qualifed support that at least you engage the public in honest debate. I understand the Budgets fa better than most people. However, I have difficulty accessing the newest Budget information on the Website. Jezebel sent me this: http://www.townofstratford.com/Upload/147/16273/36246/TOS%20Proposed%20Budget.pdf WPCA begins on P. 68. None of the numbers make any sense. 2011 is the worst. For some reason we paid $3,925,777 in bond principal and $629,079 in interest. But in 2012 we paid $2,294,089 in principal and $878,573 in interest. And then there is the $300,000 to the general fund and $1,935,000 in Capital Outlay "Contingency"? I'm not even going to mention the crazy numbers in the 2013 budget. --- At the Town Council Meeting, Thomas Yates confirmed the Bond $ #s that I found & Jeze emailed me .... I believe it was $ 3.172 Million? --- I'm not picking on you, HOWEVER, the financial Budget numbers simply don't make sense or appear to be intentional lies to some of us who have watched Stratford politics. --- I have a phone call to Sue Collier asking 2 groups of questions. 1 - How many Businesses are in Stratford (higher rate than residential) 2 - What was the 2011 sewer revenue? A) Where can it be found on the Website for verification. Someone in FINANCE DEPT said SEWER REVENUE is FUND # 38. Didn't know number of Businesses paying different rate.
Stephanie Philips June 04, 2012 at 06:39 PM
There are so few councilmember’s who engage in any public forum outside the council meetings. I admire councilman Budnick’s courage as a 1st year council member to share his thoughts and engage the public directly and openly. I will add that I do not believe Mr. Budnick makes his decisions in lock-step with anyone, but evaluates the information available to him, and he willing to find common ground. Patch.com could be a great place to ask elected officials questions, get a deeper understanding of issues, and allow elected officials to explain their positions. I hope the Patch.com community allows this to continue without character attacks and preferably less name calling, and debate the issues and information at hand. One last point to Mr. Budnick comment on my voting record. Over the past 3 years of 75+ votes, I have disagreed with the majority vote 5-6 times, which I do with great thought and explanation. On the other hand, I have supported and advocated many initiatives from the Mayor’s office and other Republicans with a common goal. I encourage Mr. Budnick to continue to post, as I will also post or use email sphilips@townofstratford.com. I agree with Paradise Green that we must “be accountable to the taxpayers of Stratford” and therefore need to communicate our positions and seek feedback. Stephanie Philips 2nd District Council member
George E. Mulligan June 05, 2012 at 02:30 AM
There are Council people, BoE, Town & other employees who tell the truth. Most often they choose their words carefully. Nobody completely outs the entire truth. There are times I have to hold back information believe it or not. The majority of information I get I have to be careful of entrapment & manipulation, because people are fed information & even they don't realize they're being manipulated. Some manipulation is local in origin for local agendas. Some manipulation comes from State or Federal, including some who either believe they're telling the truth, OR willingly do BIDDING of their PATRONS. It's pretty amazing that people who one would expect who know the truth, don't realize they too were being played. I have stories about converstions with George McGovern of the Senate Intelligence Committee & former Presidential candidate, as well as Barbara Bailey Kinnelly, ex-Congress Intelligence Committee & daughter of John Moran Bailey, CT DSC Chairman forever & DNC Chair 1961-1968. No one would ever believe: how the system really works; how pathetic the Intelligence Community people are. The world's run by people who are all EGO & NO SELF RESPECT. Certainly NO ONE at the TOP believes in the CONSTITUTION. PUPPETEERS, get their Strings pulled, too! Dropping info & comment to Blumenthal about 10 years ago & Memorial day had health & finance ramifications. Quinnipiac comments to Levitt, Dodd, & Lieberman changed DJIA basket.
Chris B June 06, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Those shiny new sidewalks were paid for by the homeowners. I don't know of any other town where the home owner must pay for sidewalk maintenance
Jim Ravis June 06, 2012 at 02:17 PM
@chris B - it depends.... The following is from... http://www.townofstratford.com/content/1302/402/625/23801.aspx "PROPERTY OWNERS are responsible, by town ordinance, for the maintenance and repair of the sidewalk(s) adjacent to their property. Exceptions include damage resulting from the actions or negligence of the Town of Stratford (i.e. trees located on town property, plow damage, etc.), or sidewalks adjacent to town property or public right of ways. Residents must repair damaged sidewalks to Town Code specifications and obtain proper permits. Residents may enlist the services of a private contractor to repair a sidewalk, or may pay the Town to perform the repair."
Jim Ravis June 06, 2012 at 02:19 PM
@chris B - also it looks like parts of the sidewalks were brought up to code - i.e. Handicap ramps with non skid pads. I doubt a homeowner is responsible for that.
George E. Mulligan June 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Does anyone notice that NO TOWN COUNCILOR or MAYOR or OFFICIAL explains or makes transparent facts about the PENSIONS, BENEFITS, UNFUNDED MANDATES and TAXATION 40 % too high. I offer to PUBLICLY DEBATE that ISSUE. No one ACCEPTS my challenge. No one here will debate it either.

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