Letter: Now is not the time to withdraw from the health district

To the Editor:

The Trumbull Town Council will meet in special session Dec. 11 to consider resolution 25-140 which calls for Trumbull to withdraw from the Trumbull Monroe Health District.

If either town wishes to withdraw as of the July 1 start of the health district year, notification must be made by Jan. 1 of that year. There is little back up information available to Town Council members or the public on the town’s website. I have spent the past five days investigation this issue.

Yesterday I had a lengthy in person meeting with First Selectman Herbst and his chief of staff. They presented me with a preliminary Finance Department analysis showing that Trumbull should save $80,000 per year by running its own Health Department. Currently, Trumbull is responsible for 65% of the cost of the Health District, but does not derive 65% of the benefits. As Trumbull has become a town 80% served by sewers and has its waste water treated in Bridgeport, the district sanitarians spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with septic and other systems in Monroe.

As explained by both towns’ chief executives, the towns have different policies and ordinances. Employees of the health district must apply different rules to locations on the same street but in different towns. This leads to animosity of the affected citizens. Trumbullites bear great umbrage at having their Farmer’s Market (the oldest in Connecticut) shut down, organizers said, due to the health district regulations, while Monroe’s farmer’s market was allowed to operate.

I have queried members of the Town Council about this resolution before my meeting with the first selectman. They are in the dark. They have not yet received full information but are expected to make this important vote on the 11th.

The final finance department report is not yet ready. There is no way to subject the report to scrutiny, invite intelligent public comment and hold the vote on the 11th.

I call upon the first selectman to withdraw the resolution, or for the Town Council to either table or reject the resolution.

I am not opposed to the concept of establishing a Trumbull Town Health Department and ending our participation in the joint district. I am opposed to ramming through legislation without adequate time for council members and the public to have all the facts and comment upon them.

If it makes sense for Trumbull to withdraw from the Health District in 2015, it will still make sense to do so in 2016. The $80,000 per annum is an important savings, but in the total Town budget is a tiny amount. Making this change in a circumspect manner is far more important rushed legislation and unanswered question.

Marshall Marcus