LETTER: Taxpayers pick up tab for Nichols sewer fiasco
As a resident of North Nichols, I recently attended an informational hearing concerning the pending sewer assessments that will begin in July of 2013. I would encourage all of my fellow Nichols residents to attend these meetings.
In 2002 the Baldwin Administration told me the assessment for my sewers would be between $16,000 and $18,000. Fast forward to 2012, with the nearing completion of the Nichols Sewers System my assessment is more than $24,000. Yikes!
A little history. Back in 2002, the Baldwin Administration didn't tell us that there would be huge price escalations. In the April 2009 meeting minutes of the WPCA, the town's sewer administrator said that when the 'new' estimates were given, the town did not alert residents to the cost escalations due to rising fuel/asphalt/wages etc. It's kind of' like saying, "You have to pass the bill to find out what's in it."
Here is what is troubling. In 2009, the Baldwin Administration sought a $27 million bond authorization to begin construction of the North Nichols sewer project. Even though the bond authorization was for a September meeting, construction was started before the funding was in place, and six weeks before Baldwin left office. How is that possible? Oh yeah, you have to pass the bill to find out what's in it.
The Herbst Administration attempted to stop any further work by the contractor because of the enormous costs and unsettled problems that the Jog Hill area was subjected to. But an extensive review of the documents by a legal team found the contracts so lopsided and in favor of the contractor that additional legal costs along with the additional burden of escalating sewer costs would impact every tax payer in this town. So now that the bill has been passed we know what's in it.
Every resident should know that this fiasco was several years in the making. Those that passed the bill are now long gone, leaving all of us taxpayers to pick up the pieces. And the costs.
I am grateful that the Herbst Administration championed a change in our Town Charter requiring all bond authorizations and multi-million dollar expenditures be brought before the Trumbull voters by way of a referendum.
This open form of government will give us transparency and accountability. So now when the bill gets passed, we will know what's in it.