Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 Bond Workshop, Special Common Council Meeting

The Common Council had a workshop meeting tonight with the Water and Sewer Department's Director, Guy Russo explaining to council the need to
Water and Sewer Department Director, Guy Russo
approve bonds for $2Million dollars over the next two years to fund needed infrastructure updates and repairs to the city's aging water system. These bond ordinances will appear on Monday nights Regular Common Council Meeting agenda twice; once to be addressed in the public hearing, and later to be voted on as ordinances. 

The meeting got started with a public hearing on agenda item 6-1 a resolution that would have approved an executive session (closing the meeting to the public) of the Common Council to discuss modifications and upgrades to the City's ITS departments. Ed McKeon of the Middletowneye sent a letter of objection to the council, read into the record, stating that the Freedom of Information Law would be violated if the meeting was conducted per the wording of the resolution.

 geothermal? Will MT be green?
Mr. Russo addressed the Common Council and provided them with an overview of how and why $2million dollars would be spent on infrastructure upgrades to bring water to our homes and business. First and foremost the city is obligated to make some of the upgrades to comply with EPA and DEP  regulations. Russo verged on stating that the city is already out of compliance--and stated clearly that the city really is left with no choice but to pay up, and that one way or another the city would face the costs of properly maintaining and thus assuring the integrity of the water delivery system and noted that the system continues to age and that Middletown has the second oldest water charter in the state, granted in 1867. 

every 20yrs
Mr. Russo upon questioning, was not as clear on what the cost to the citizens would be. His estimate was between a 5 and 10% rise in rates. About half the cost would be a result of the infrastructure updates. The rest of the estimated rise in rates was attributed to an 8% decrease in water sales, plus that promised one time rate adjustment on sewer rates--forget it--due to an income loss attributed to the Kleen Energy disaster. The bottom line, on cost to the consumer was roughly estimated at $22.00 a year.

This is unsafe and has to be replaced!
A common council member questioned the status of ongoing negotiations between Middletown and the Mattabesset Sewer District regarding combining treatment plants. Mr. Russo responded that with the help of the DEP and EPA, a mediator has been summoned to help both parties resolve their differences. The three stalemates; the cost for Middletown's buy-in, the cost of expansion of the plant as it relates to partial ownership of the plant by Middletown, and resolving governance issues. There is some optimism that by April differences will have been resolved, at which point another 4-6 years will pass while work is completed on either A) The two districts become one, and expansion is complete; or B) Middletown builds a new plant as would be required by Federal and State mandate. The cost of this is wide-open, with no indication of what future rate increases might bring when this gets settled out .

Related news is that the plan for Westfield's long needed improvements to water delivery have been sidelined, pending the possibility of a federal subsidy to help cover these costs given the demands the new Military  Training Reserve Base will put on the system in that neighborhood.

8:03 adjournment
At 7:55 the discussion was opened and motions made to pass the 6-1 resolution related to having an executive session. Many expressed an opinion agreeing with Mr. McKeon concerns stated in his letter, thought not everyone weighed in; if there was dissent it was not stated. Some discussion ensued on how to move forward as it was also acknowledged that there would be a small portion of the discussion that would warrant executive session. When the second to the motion was withdrawn, someone quickly said motion to adjourn, then seconded, with all in favor closing out the evenings work of the Common Council.

No comments: