In 11 months Democratic primary voters will decide if Mayor Bill Finch deserves another four-year contract. The mayor does not want to raise taxes in an election year.
One deal in particular may be the difference between a Finch royal flush or being flushed out of office.
City officials from Bridgeport, Trumbull and Monroe have been meeting in earnest to determine if a regional wastewater treatment authority makes economic sense. Monroe wants to widen commercial development. The way to do that is to tie into Trumbull’s sewer line that’s connected to Bridgeport’s sewage treatment system. Trumbull has sewers but no treatment plant. The cost to build one is enormous.
Finch has told his negotiating team of lawyers to make sure this deal happens. For Finch it could mean a one-shot revenue of $40 million dollars to his next budget. State law allows two or more communities to create a regional water pollution control authority, essentially a mini-municipality, that processes waste. (New Haven and neighbors have such an agreement.) The authority would purchase the wastewater infrastructure from Bridgeport and Trumbull. Presto, instant moolah, especially for Bridgeport with its two treatment systems. Bridgeport has been processing Trumbull waste in a decades-long fee agreement. The current fee agreement comes due in two years. For Monroe, sewers mean more development and more tax revenue. The key player in this deal is Trumbull. Does it make long-term financial sense to do this regional partnership? Does it mean Trumbull will subsidize Bridgeport improvements?
What’s the down side? How will this impact water usage rates? Ratepayers will have to pay for the debt service inherited by the new authority and all the cost improvements that go with it. Bridgeport has an antiquated system. Its storm and sanitary systems are not separated. That’s why you’ll see portions of the city ankle deep in water during heavy rain storms with raw sewage spilling into the harbor from the city’s East End and West End treatment plants. It’s messy. Trumbull, with a separated system, doesn’t have Bridgeport’s problem. The city has begun the process to separate its antiquated lines, necessary to avoid ponding, sewage overflows and accommodate new development.
Also, what impact would this deal have on the city’s stretched treatment systems? Is it an environmental nightmare?
There’s a lot of money processing poop. Lawyers, architects, engineers, construction companies, wastewater consultants and a whole bunch more will be positioned for work. The city has already spent tens of thousands in legal fees, from Finch’s perspective a worthy investment if the deal happens. Water pollution control authorities from the respective towns, legislative bodies and state Department of Environmental Protection will be part of the approval process.
Will Poopville happen? Watch it play out over the next few months.