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Hearing Tonight on Proposed 34% Hike to Sewer Fee

Public hearing precedes anticipated vote on proposal to raise town's sewer use fee for Stratford homeowners.

Updated Tuesday, May 29

Citing costs to upgrade the town's sewer treatment plant, Mayor John A. Harkins is proposing to raise the annual sewer use fee by 34 percent.

The increase would up the yearly payment for Stratford homeowners from $280 to $375.

Town officials are expected to vote on the fee tonight following a public hearing at that begins at 6:30 p.m.

The body in charge of setting the sewer rate is the Water Pollution Control Authority, a board comprised of all Town Council members.

"I will vow to not vote for the 'fee' increase until I am comfortable that it is completely necessary and can explain that to my constituents or other residents in a[n] easy to understand way," Councilman Craig Budnick (R-7) wrote in the comments section of our original report published below.

Town's Residential Sewer Fee Could Rise 34 Percent

The hike is reportedly needed to help pay for upgrades to the town's sewer treatment plant.

(Published May 11)

Stratford homeowners who pay an annual sewer use fee could soon have to cough up about $100 more.

Mayor John A. Harkins' looks to raise the yearly fee from $280 to $375. A town committee is expected to vote on the 34 percent increase later this month.

Finance Director Susan Collier said the "whole reason" for the hike is to help pay for upgrades which have already been made to Stratford's sewer treatment plant.

"The town in October 2010, we finished a $60 million upgrade to the facility," Collier said. "When it finished the debt started to be due. We took some small loans...the current debt is $43 million."

Sewer use fees, separate from property taxes, go into the water pollution control fund, a self-sustaining account separate from the town's general fund, according to Marc Dillon, the mayor's chief of staff. The fees only pay for costs associated with the expenses of the plant, Dillon said.

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For three years from 2008 to 2010, the annual sewer use fee in Stratford was $250, according to Collier. Then for two years the charge was $280, she said.

A proposed increase last year that would have upped the fee to $315 was during a public hearing then rejected by the Water Pollution Control Authority, a board comprised of all Town Council members whose job it is to approve the sewer use fee.

"In hindsight, had we gradually increased it we would have been in better condition," Collier said. "Previous boards chose not to increase...it is what it is."

"The administration remains committed to finding new ways in which to operate this facility as efficiently as possible," Harkins wrote in his budget proposal. "Much of this effort involves controlling labor and benefit costs, along with nitrogen credits, utility and sludge disposal costs, which together account for the majority of operating expenses."

Collier explained that a $455,000 increase in 'contractual services' is for paying town employees to do work at the plant. Over the previous four years, the line item had not exceeded $90,000.

Harkins concluded, "..at less than $32 per month for the average-sized family, the cost of wastewater treatment is quite reasonable when compared to the sewer use fees of surrounding communities."

Kevin Schneck May 18, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Wow, In light of Mr. Catalano's update and the posting of the bid requests things have gotten very quiet, what no political spin on this? What does the rest of the town council have to say?, go ahead and try to tell me you knew nothing of this.
Jezebel282 May 19, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Mr. Schneck, Apparently Council members nor the Administration have anything to say.
George E. Mulligan May 20, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Mr. Budnick If you pose your question about polling directly (jeze's email) or indirectly to jezebel, via www.stratfordcharter.wordpress Jezebel can explain how to 1 - start your own blog 2 - create a series of polls on your blog 3 - to preempt problems, don't mix campaigning with FYI (ever). Can be an election LAWS issue. Jeze can also walk you through were to find money to repay the WPCA BOND on the TOWN WEBSITE in the BUDGET. Jeze can also explain the other issues, per the WPCA Budget where you can state positions of Marc Dillon & Sue Collier Ask Marc Dillon & Sue Collier counter. It is simple to find answers, IF YOU KNOW WHERE to LOOK & what to ASK? Further, as a Town Councilor, you have "Franking priviledges." Kelly, Hoydick, Miller, Backer official mailers are examples. Franking is mailing to your constituents to inform them about things in your District, including MEET your District Town Councilor at schools or public buildings/event(s). Mr. Budnick, you get my handouts monthly. How hard is it to print a list of questions about issues you believe your constituents care about per: 7th District, Town, & State / Federal issues related to stratford? - Mr Catalano was at Academy Hill with about 10 others this morning instead of Shakespeare Theare 1/4 mile away. (MORE outta State cars visits today) For 4 hours they dug a trench & laid white stones around all/most of the WW II Memorial for Memorial Day. My back disallows my active help
George E. Mulligan May 20, 2012 at 02:28 AM
SEWER FEE $ 95 increase: 22,500 homes/business=1/2 Mil Tax increase. Judith Terrace waived $ 313,000 SEWER FEES SELLING GARBAGE transfer station for CASH NOT piping POISON GROUND WATER to WPCA Water Treatment Plant, diluting POISONS/GAS=VOCs. - Listen: May 14 Public Forum Speaker # 9. FUND RAISER for CHILD with CANCER. - I hadn't gotten names, besides Russell family (formerly Willow Street) I heard there're 5 children with CANCER. . Town Council & Mayor signed-took credit for Catalano EPA REMEDIATION Resolution. Are Kelly, Hoydic, & Miller setting up Harkins or replacement by Legislation that in FEB 2013, not NOW, but FEB 13, the LEGISLATURE is going to seek WAYS to FUND RAYMARK clean up? - WHY NOT NOW? Does Kelly's firm throughTown Attorney Bishop and others can get increased billing for Town foreclosures & unfair assessments? Is Harkins positioned to likely steer tax liens & foreclosures? Do decreased propery values make foreclosure defense harder for home owners, due to lower CUSHION of EQUITY, which would allow them to ride out DEPRESSION / RECESSION & be able to get a future Home Equity Loan or Credit line? Sell at 2007 level or higher? Is DTC Chairman Burturla's firm still churn billing machine on Republican run Board of Education & Town. Can Lawyers SWAP CASES to create illusions & deniability? Can STRATFORD ATTORNEY BILLING to other FIRMS, come back to TOWN ATTORNEYS & ATTORNEYS in STRATFORD=influence/donate elections
Dom DeCicco May 20, 2012 at 04:21 AM
I was shocked to read this. I thought, "how would I possibly part with an additional $100 each year?" Here I was thinking that the Town had our backs and that honor and dignity had to be the standard for all of our electeds. Then I spent some time considering how good people could be convinced to do evil things. I spent some time reading-- as I often do when the world turns upside down and I have to step back from it all. I read THE NAZI DOCTORS: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide by Robert J. Lifton (ISBN 0-465-09094) and it all made sense to me. This is a long read, but the part about diagnosing children and then "treating" them was interesting.
George E. Mulligan May 20, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Orwellian? Hitler's Weimar Republic was recognized as a legitimate government. What would they say and write: Generals George Marshall, Omar Bradley, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas McCarthur, Curtis LeMay, Admiral Bull Halsey, Chester Nimitz, William Leahy, and Ernest King? Billy Mitchell
thomas yates May 20, 2012 at 11:49 PM
it was about two years ago WPCA wanted to raise sewer rates for stratford home owners first they posted 340 Dollars Per Single Family Home For Public Hearing Then It WAS Changed To 325 Dollars Per Single Family Home A Dozen People Spoke Agianst The Rate Increase And IT Was Voted Down Some OF WPCA Members Wanted Higher Sewer Rates Because Our Sewer Rates Were LESS Than OUR Neighboring TOWNS Shelton To OUR NORTH CHARGES 198 Dollars PER RESIDENTIAL UNITSTARTING JULY 1 2012 MILFORD CHARGES 287 Dollars PER RESIDENTIAL UNIT BRIDGEPORT AND TRUMBULL CHARGE MORE BASED ON WATER USAGE ALSO TO THE RESIDENTS OF STRATFORD DO YOU ALL KNOW THE PINE ROCK PARK AREA RT 110 River Road AREA OF SHELTON IS TIED INTO OUR SEWER SYSTEM AND THEY PAY LESS THAN STRATFORD RESIDENTS DO WHATS WRONG HERE
Jim Ravis May 21, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Can anyone explain why Judith terrace sewer fees were waived? And how shelton was able the negotiate a lower sewer assessment? Meanwhile Stratford residents pickup the difference.
Mike Reynolds May 21, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I never understood why the town didn't go after Oronoque CC for poisoning the Judith Terr resident's wells.
George E. Mulligan May 21, 2012 at 06:23 AM
Mr. Reynolds - who were the lawyers and financial people for the town and Oronoque CC / Village? Perhaps you'd find your answers? Mr. Ravis, who were the lawyers and financial people for the Town and on the Town Council when the Judith Terrace fees were originally due? Was it 2002 - 2003? Is there a 7 year statute of limitations to the 2010 - 2011 Council? Who ran for Mayor as a Republican, then as an Independent, affecting the outcomes of both Mayoral results, and whose brother was given 5 extra minutes by Chairman Malloy to rail against Councilwoman Meuse and those of us who dared raise the issue. - Months before the brother used a bottle of liquid allegedly containing gasoline, allegedly from his ground water, I gave the EPA a couple of Watermellons I planted specifically to give to them. - The differences? I did it before the brother. I gave credit to the movie Erin Brocovich, which inspired my idea. My summer water bill insured I'd never garden again, even if the ground and high table ground water wasn't poisoned. There are only 2 tall trees left on the planting strip of HOMESTEAD AVENUE. - At least 10 tall trees had dying branches and had to be taken down! Mr. Yates: Last year I was the ONLY PUBLIC FORUM SPEAKER against the $280 SEWER FEES, which I read from the PUBLIC FORUM ROSTER. C.A.O. GEEN T. tried to substitute $ 345 for $ 280, with ZERO NOTICE, nor advance paperwork, Santi caught. Council tabled vote & defeated at main meeting.
George E. Mulligan May 21, 2012 at 06:45 AM
It is my political beliefs, this is true. Under Town Council Chairman Kubic the Public can no longer speak at SPECIAL MEETINGS. We can SPEAK at PUBLIC HEARING & REGULAR COUNCIL MEETINGS. Under RTC buylaws, they reduced minimum people needed to have quorum. They hold RTC meetings at private Country Club, which excludes Public & Press, except at nominations/endorsement, votes. Town-EPA-DEP won't pipe POISON WATER to PLANT to be TREATED? It's public knowledge some intend to increase SEWER FEES to between $500-$600 annually to sell the WPCA, which the Attorneys & political parties appear to work with the STATE, BRIDGEPORT, TRUMBULL, SHELTON, MILFORD, FAIRFIELD to use OVER CAPACITY Water Treatment to support: AVCO SAEP AIRPORT SHELTON (DiBicella > Kelly rep part of Shelton) Bridgeport + Trumbull share CT State reps Fairfield (friends of Sikorsky Airport carpet baggers) MILFORD = BERCHEM Castle & where Burturla has office as does Democrat power Anthony Avallone leased/had office. I believe CT POST connected dots that Nancy DeNardo is/was head of CT Dem Party, Her brother Sal is Bridgeport Developer. They're cousins to Willinger (& Bucci firm) Bucci was former Mayor when Dom Costello & Dan DeBicella's dad were Bridgeport Police. Jon Best worked for Bridgeport, when Bucci became Mayor-phasedout. Jon worked for NYC Andy Stein & Fairfield duRELL. I believe Willinger & Bucci repped "Team Stratford" Berchem clients list Stratford & Bpt
George E. Mulligan May 21, 2012 at 07:01 AM
Please copy, paste, & forward information to neighbors, work, social groups, pta, church/synagogue, etc. I have limited time left to educate the public about Taxes 40 % too high. Last thing. Majority of the HIGHEST PENSIONERS aren't real union. They are MANAGMENT, with political connections to nominally (R) party, which hires DTC Chair Burturla & his firm, paying them more than the (R) Attorneys combined. Check the EXCEL available from FREE from the FINANCE DEPARTMENT. I believe at least 80 % of the highest pensioners are Department Heads Supervisors Deputy/Chief - Police & Fire Captains Lieutenants Sargeants There are some questionable D B Pensions from BoE & dispatch among others. The last couple years Fire Dept Pensions obscures the RANKING personnel connections and those who retired from 1999 to 2009, where Team Stratford has a fog / mist over compensation and/or understanding related to potential no interest loans? Town Attorney Burturla's brother leap frogged people to become head of CT STATE TROOPER HomeLand Security. ex-DTC Chair CT STATE TROOPER LT Schirillo reputedly paid liaison to HomeLand Security? ex-RTC member retired CT STATE TROOPER Tom Moore reputedly paid liaison to HomeLand Security? Certain Law firms reputedly have relatives & political connections of Federal & State Judges/elected, & former Federal/State government Lawyers spend transitional year parked in Firms, due to Ethics 1 year requirement
Kimberly Meuse. May 22, 2012 at 08:46 PM
The assessment fees on Judith Terrace were waived for those who connected to the water line prior to last July 2011 by a Council vote of 8 to 2. Stephanie Philips and I voted against waiving those fees and saddling the taxpayers as a whole for what equated to free water connections for a handful of residents. The town didn't pollute their water, but the taxpayers were left with their bill. I don't believe a new assessment for those still unconnected has been set. The November 2010 vote essentially waived the 300K cost to build a water line to that street to be absorbed by everyone else in town. As for the question regarding why the residents of Judith Terrace and the Town didn't go after the private entity (Oronoque CC) responsible for the alleged gas leaked into the private residential wells on that street...that's a great question best asked of the attorney(s) for the town during that timeframe around 2000-2002, the attorney for the Oronoque interests and the Councilmen for Districts 8 & 9 during those years when the assessment fees were routinely and purposefully kept off the table.
Not so common sense May 22, 2012 at 11:24 PM
does anyone except me just scroll over this guys posts? what a wacko all over the place!!!
Mike Reynolds May 23, 2012 at 12:17 PM
You are not alone.
George E. Mulligan May 23, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Billy Mitchell is known as the father of the American Air Force. He was courts marshalled 16 years before Japanese attacked 12/7. It seemed he predicted a Japanese attack & from NNW. He proved air craft could sink battle ships. Highly intelligent people were not alone in thinking General Michell to be wacko & insubordiate. Some people HAD VESTED INTERESTS to besmear him. . There were many who detested & distrusted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Now we have a national holiday for him. There were people who felt the Declaration of Independence was treason & unfocused litany which were not connectable. Some people believed the earth was flat. Newsweek magazine holds that CONVENTIONAL WISDOM is often wrong. Most people mirror image what their experiences have been to what is & is not TRUE or POSSIBLE. Some people actually read & comprehend, rather than simply scroll. :) However, believe what you will. Yet, I can't rebutt generalities. Ever notice the Administrations NEVER challenge my NUMBER$? - Aren't they in better position to know the truths & PROVE me wrong? - Has Mike Reynolds or Not so ever debated facts or specifics? - To engage in Debate of Facts is less easy than name calling, or am I incorrect? - It's one thing to freely claim people to be wacko - It's another thing for the wacko to prove critics wrong, isn't it? - I also use my own name in blog posts, letters to editor, & in Public. I admit to being wacko ;)
David Durgy May 23, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Regarding Billy Mitchell, and I quote: This is an interesting and detailed account of Mitchell's 1925 trial for insubordination that argues the general was convicted not only because he was guilty as charged but also because his defense lawyer was woefully inept. Bungled cross examinations and a clever prosecutor produced testimony from expert witnesses that revealed virtually all of Mitchell's charges of military incompetence and negligence to be unfounded. Grumelli concludes that Mitchell's decision to provoke a public court martial was a serious miscalculation that quickly revealed his "tremendous arrogance, extreme self righteousness, gross exaggerations and blatant inaccuracies." He further concludes that Mitchell, who was surprised at his conviction, spent the rest of his life vainly seeking vindication, but instead found himself fading quickly into obscurity, devoid of either influence or importance. Sounds familiar.
Kimberly Meuse. May 24, 2012 at 05:02 PM
One correction to my comment: The vote was 7-2 to waive the fees. Councilman Scott Potter (District 6) was not in Chamber to vote and Councilman Dave Fuller had not taken his seat at that point in time.
Jason Bagley (Editor) May 29, 2012 at 02:00 PM
UPDATE: Town officials are expected to vote on the proposed hike to the sewer fee tonight, Tuesday, May 29, following a public hearing at Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. Check back Wednesday for the full story.
Mike May 29, 2012 at 02:22 PM
All I know is that if fees and taxes keep going up, I will be paying one hundred percent of my income to fees and taxes. What will happen when they go up after that?
Bob E. Peel May 29, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Politicians have always used a low cost way of sampling the 7th district voters at election time, that was knocking on doors. When they were running for office they spent a lot of "FREE" time promoting themselves. Why not use this same method to get a sampling of 7th district residents regarding the increase in sewer "TAX" Since you haven't knocked on my door about the sewer tax, for the record, I'm against it.
Thomas Gee May 29, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Anne it can't be done. It's mathamatically impossible to calculate.
George E. Mulligan May 29, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Of appr $ 60 m for WPCA TREATMENT PLANT - 20 % paid by state. Under $ 50 m was 2% Loan from State of CT. About $ 100 annual fees x 22,500 residents & businesses may be $ 3 mil per hundred, with $ 280 going to $ 375. If Jezebel's post is correct, where will the $ 4 million to $ 5 million over the bond repayment be going? Is that how they finance elections and country clubs? I wonder if they pay any taxes?
George E. Mulligan May 29, 2012 at 08:49 PM
from Jezebel > "Finance Director Susan Collier said the "whole reason" for the hike is to help pay for upgrades which have already been made to Stratford's sewer treatment plant." Does she not read her own budget? There are line items totaling $3,172,662 for bond repayment and interest. The $600,000 in land use fees, $455,000 to public works and $300,000 in "profit" are over and above any "upgrades". ALL of these amounts go directly to the General Fund. You know, like our taxes do. In fact without these fees, the operating cost of the WPCA (including bond repayment) would be under the FY 2011 amount. Can somebody please tell the truth here? What do land use fees, payments to public works and direct transfers have to do with upgrades or cost of services?
George E. Mulligan May 29, 2012 at 08:53 PM
$ 280 annual fee * 22 500 = $ 6,300,000 $ 375 new annual fee * 22,500 minimum housing/business = $ 8,437,500 Budget line items totaling $3,172,662 for bond repayment and interest. $ 2500 to $ 4500 of the 22,500 are businesses paying higher fees. Into whose pockets are the extra $ 2 to 5 million going?
Jim Ravis May 30, 2012 at 01:09 AM
The increase was passed. 7-3. Mr. Stratford voted for it. Phillips, Dempsey and Catalano opposed it.
Jason Bagley (Editor) May 30, 2012 at 01:19 AM
That's right. And, before the vote, about 10 people spoke in opposition of the $95 hike. Story to come.
Jim Ravis May 30, 2012 at 01:22 AM
....and none spoke in favor of it....
George E. Mulligan May 30, 2012 at 02:54 AM
The untold story, unseen by people who don't know histories and personalities made this vote far worse than it appears. All 10 of the votes were staged.
Jason Bagley (Editor) May 30, 2012 at 01:03 PM
NEW ARTICLE Residential Sewer Fee Goes Up $95: http://stratford.patch.com/articles/stratford-residential-sewer-bill-goes-up-95

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