Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Milardo Commentary: Tax Abatements and Sewer Shortfalls

COMMENTARY by John Milardo

Well, well, well!  Middletown Mayor Daniel T. Drew has now become the most underhanded, untrustworthy, Mayor of all time in our City!  He has now decided that he does not need the Common Council to approve tax abatements for businesses.  

Reportedly,  Mayor Drew gave one or more businesses, between 2015-16, a reduction in their property taxes of $150,000.  That’s right, $150,000!  How are your property taxes?  Seen any reductions in them lately?  We should all go see Danny and ask him for one.  Gee, I wonder how much these companies donated to his campaign funds?

Whether it’s called a “deferral” or an “abatement”, this issue should have gone before the Common Council members for approval.  The Mayor does not have the unilateral authority to approve a tax abatement…. for anyone.  He has violated the City Charter and the public’s trust.

As those who have college student loans know, a deferral means what you currently owe is placed on hold until the individual finish studies.  Once you’re finished your courses, payback of all money owed begins again.  
Abatement, means a certain amount, let’s say $150,000 is forgiven.  You don’t pay it back.  These above-mentioned companies don’t have to pay tax money back.  Therefore, it’s an abatement, not a deferral.  No matter how you cut it, the Mayor violated policy and City law.

Supposedly, Mayor Dan received a legal opinion from the City Office of General Counsel giving him the authority to do so.  Whomever in legal gave him that opinion should be under investigation, as should the Mayor.  Impeachment and termination should be on the table as well.

How could this have been kept a “secret” for all this time?  If this was on the up and up, the Mayor would have been tooting his horn about it.  Shame on the Democrats and Republicans of the Common Council if they knew about this and said nothing! 

Questions.  Why this/these businesses only?  Why this certain amount?  Why didn’t the abatement have to go through any other Commission, Committees, or Council meeting?   Why was the issue hidden from the public? 

On to different topics.  

The Mattabasett/Middletown sewer project is underfunded…...again!  Town voters approved the first bond for this project a couple or more years ago.  For those who may not remember, Middletown’s’ Sewer Treatment Plant is obsolete.  We voted to pump sewage from Middletown to Cromwell’s Mattabasett sewer treatment plant.  After the installation of some of the pipe work was done, Director Guy Russo, who retired this past year, ran out of funding for the project so another $15 million dollars was approved by town voters to complete the work.  He assured the Common Council members at that time, $15 million would be more than enough to finish everything, including the pump station.  Well, the money is gone, and the pump station cannot be completed.  I guess they’ll ask us for more funding AGAIN! 

I hear the State of Connecticut will be blamed for the additional cost because they are demanding different mechanical and technical equipment and the like.  It’s not the States fault.  You don’t ask for bond money without having all your permits, architectural drawings, designs, etc. approved by the State before you begin any portion of the project.  It is the City’s fault!  Taxpayers’ will be on the hook, again!

There is one exception to the rule - the $35 million bond approved for Park improvement by the voters which had no plan at all.  It’s a $35 million blank check to do what the Public Works Department wants to do with it.  A Park/Public Works Committee was put in place after the bond was approved to decide what improvements will be made.  I have a suggestion.  Why not take money needed to complete the Sewer project from the Park bond?  The Park bond funding was predicated on building artificial athletic fields.  That fell through, so natural turf fields are being constructed.  There is a vast difference between the two.  There should be a surplus of millions of dollars in the Park bond due to natural field construction.

We keep on hearing about “transparency in government” by our local officials.  Yet few question the illegal activities of Mayor Drew.  It’s about time both Democrats and Republican Common Council members question this Mayor on his inappropriate behaviors.  If they don’t, then they are just as complicit!


Enzo D said...

Wow John. Thank you for bringing these issues to the surface.

How can these problems be made more public for awareness amongst the voting population? Things like this I feel belong on the night time news and in headlines.

This blog is great and is an excellent outlet for discussions like this but very few of the city population frequent this site unfortunately.

I would like to see council members address these claims in the comments section here. Will you bring this up for discussion at your next council meeting? Will you demand an investigation? I suggest Danny boy make the coffers whole personally if he broke these laws.

The sewer project is a sad but not too surprising outcome either. City government operates very different from the private sector it seems since they know they can force taxes on the tax base at will.

John Milardo said...

The Common Council members now know about these issues, and probably did before I heard about them. It's up the them to perform their due diligence for the public who placed them in their positions to PROTECT THE PUBLIC!
As I stated, if they do not, then they are complicit!

Anonymous said...

John Milardo’s suggestion to redirect the parks bonding money to the sewer pumping station is brilliant! And because the decommissioning of the old sewage treatment facility on River Road will create the conditions for a riverfront park (see the plan created by the Project for Public Spaces), the redirection of the money is not inappropriate.

Enzo D said...

I would love to see a council member respond to this openly in the forum.