Town Council approves sewage treatment contract

For better or worse, some partnerships can never die.

That’s what the Trumbull Town Council recognized Monday night when it passed an agreement with the city of Bridgeport that will reconfigure the wastewater treatment plan between the two municipalities.

The vote, which was met with no opposition and made contingent upon the Bridgeport City Council’s approval, accepts the contract that was pushed forward by the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) last month.

To make the deal feasible, Trumbull’s Board of Finance — in a joint session with the Town Council — transferred $852,921 from the Water Pollution Control Authority’s general fund to an expense account.

The rest of the contract details remain concealed until both councils approve it, according to Trumbull Town Attorney Dennis Kokenos.

However, that position didn’t sit well with two speakers who didn’t want to wait for specifics to come out after an agreement was set in stone.

“The only party that was kept out of the loop was the public,” said Anthony Daquila of Valley View Road. “For the town of Trumbull to claim that ongoing litigation requires a high level of secrecy is absurd.”

Vicki Tesoro, who ran for first selectman last November, was also critical of the vote Monday night. She urged her former colleagues on the council to delay any action and allow residents time to study the proposal.

“This agreement has the potential to affect the vast majority of our citizens for years to come,” said Tesoro. “I urge you not to go forward with a vote tonight, but to give our citizens the time to study the proposal and to comment.”

The Board of Finance stressed that its role in the matter was not approving any contract agreements but simply moving funds from the Trumbull WPCA return earnings account, which is equivalent to its general fund, to an expense account that will allow it to pay any further expenditures.

According to the Town Council, the three component parts of resolution TC26-45 are as follows:

  • To approve a contract between Trumbull’s WPCA and the town of Trumbull and the city of Bridgeport and the Bridgeport WPCA.

  • To fund that agreement in accordance with the action of the Board of Finance.

  • To authorize the town attorney to resolve pending litigation regarding the rates discussed in executive session.

A wet playing field

Since the 1960s, Trumbull has been in the midst of a sewage time bomb.

With an agreement first reached by Clarence Hiemann, Trumbull decided to connect to Bridgeport’s sewer system.

Having no plan in place to build a sewer system of its own, Trumbull began a cycle of consuming sewer usage rather than spearheading its own alternatives.

Over the last 50 years, Trumbull has fought for fair representation in negotiations with Bridgeport’s WPCA.

From 1997 to 2009, Trumbull and Bridgeport were entered into an agreement that gave Trumbull residents a 13.5% tax break on their bills, as Trumbull used only one of the city’s two wastewater treatment plants. That agreement was terminated in 2009 because the WPCA felt it was no longer a just and fair arrangement.

However, some believe it terminated the contract due to Trumbull’s lack of interest in joining a regional sewer authority with Bridgeport.

Both Trumbull and Bridgeport are set to appear in front of a judge on April 18 to report on the status of their councils’ contingent approvals.