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Denenberg Takes on Sewer Plant Privatization at Civic Meeting

Newly-formed coalition predicts that monthly rates could go as high as $185 per month for sewers.

The plans of County Executive Ed Mangano to privatize the sewer system for parts of Nassau County is drawing a large response from Legis. Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick, as well as the community.

At Thursday's meeting of the (NCMCA), Denenberg explained that selling off these plants to a private company will help Mangano balance the budget, but that it is not sustainable in the long term. He also said that Mangano continues to use cash reserves to do maintenance projects at the County's plants and that he has already selected Morgan Stanley to oversee the possible transaction.

"When a private company has a monopoly over a necessity, they will make their money back," he said.

Denenberg told the crowd that this is not the first time that selling an asset has come up, and it hasn't worked out for the best before.

"We have sold hospitals and it's come back to bite us. We still have the debt but we lost the asset. We need to think about giving away this asset and what it will do to our sewer tax," he said.

Denenberg also told attendees that the county executive tried to impose a sewer usage fee on tax exempts, like school districts, and a lawsuit ensued.

The newly formed Nassau County Coalition of Civic Associations (NCCCA) is hoping to mount pressure at halting the , which would involve selling or leasing the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh, Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant and Glen Cove Sewage Plant to a private company. Mangano's plan is aimed at helping the county close a more than $300 million deficit.

Claudia Borecky, president of the NCMCA, explained that the coalition has done research and that sewage rates are about $185 per year. If the plants are sold, then sewage rates could go as high as $185 per month.

"If our rates become like our Aqua water rates, you are going to hurt us more than if you raised our taxes," she said.

Members of the coalition encouraged community members to come and speak at the Legislature so representatives know how people from the community feel.

"We, the people, own those sewer plants," said an attendee at the NCMCA meeting. "We paid for them once and we don't want to wind up paying for them again."

Denenberg is scheduled to host a forum on Mangano's sewer system privatization plan Tuesday night at the starting at 7:30 p.m. 

Chris Wendt March 21, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Detractors read Newsday but because their front page article disagrees with your "everything Mangano proposes is all bad all the time" attitude, you chose to simply ignore the other side of this debate? Bottom line from the Newsday story: "The deal could generate $400 million in revenue for Nassau, budget documents show. The county also would receive $465 million to retire system debt." Patch readers can read the entire story for yourselves at: http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/nassau-mulls-private-operator-for-sewers-1.3610456 In fairness to all readers, this here Patch article is, in my opinion, very slanted. Why? Because this here article, which really should have been all about the County Sewage Plant proposal is, instead, just about the political opinions of two Democrat office seekers, Dave Denenberg, who wants to replace Edward Mangano as County Executive (or replace Charles Fuschillo in the State Senate), and, Claudia Borecky who would like to replace Dave Denenberg in the County Legislature when Dave moves up. Political ambition is understandable, and in the case of Dave Denenberg, advancement is well deserved. If Dave does move up, then I also think Claudia Borecky should get a shot at the Legislature, meaning, at the polls, with us voters, against another candidate. BUT, editorial support for these hardworking politicians should be reserved for editorial column space, and should NOT cloud or obscure (slant) Patch's reporting of the NEWS.
Joe March 21, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Well said Chris
Wayne Smith March 21, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Let me offer another perspective on this topic. As I noted in the first comment above, I personally don't feel as though I have enough information to judge whether the proposal to privatize the sewer systems makes sense or not. Yes, there are some ideas that have been floated about how this would work, but no final proposal. Instead this has all come out in a sort of haphazard way and I think Mangano deserves some criticism for that. On the other hand, I think he actually deserves a lot of credit for recognizing that county government needs to be permanently restructured in order to reduce the toll high taxes have imposed on our economy. In my view, there's not a single layer of government on Long Island - from county, to town, to special districts and yes especially school districts - that shouldn't be doing exactly what he's doing. Ultimately, we might all decide that Mangano's proposal to privatize the sewer system is bad. But that begs the question: bad compared to what? When the recent controversy about his plan to reorganize the police department was at a fever pitch, I asked in this space if there was an alternative vision for reducing the cost of police services in Nassau County being advanced by the Democratic minority. I'm still waiting for an answer. Similarly, if Mangano's plan really is fatally flawed, that's no excuse for failing to develop alternative ideas for cost reduction. The criticism may be fair, but come up with a better idea.
Generals Fan March 21, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Nice try, Chris.In reading your past posts you never seem to miss an opportunity to cast aspersions on Ms. Borecky., while bringing up her political persuasion and aspirations. That was a low blow. Especially when you have admittedly not done your homework on this issue. I have done my homework, this sale is about closing a budget gap. The sewage treatment plant has $74 million in reserves. Why the sale?Now for your homework. Check out Veolia's purchase of a sewage treatment plant in Indianapolis and why the city of Indianapolis wants to now buy it back. The Nassau Coalition is a coalition of civic organizations, which took a vow not to take on a political agenda, either Democrat or Republican. The objective of this coalition is to take on causes that directly affect our communities. The sale of the 3 sewage treatment plants will affect 85% of Nassau County. I am not a Democrat nor am I a legislator, but I am a taxpayer who smells a rat. This is bad for Long Island, bad for Nassau County and bad for my community. This sale could put our canals and beaches at risk with questionable materials being filtered and pumped out into our waters with a sale to a private company. People...please do your homework and investigate this sale.
Chris Wendt March 22, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Ten-hut, General, my criticism here was of Patch for letting their editorial views color (slant) their reportage. A balanced, objective report would have included the financial enhancements reported by Newsday as a significant other side of this story. The quotes attributed to Legislator (lawmaker) Denenberg are unmistakably politically biased. As politicians, Dave and Claudia are certainly entitled to stake-out their political positions. But political positions are poor substitutes for facts, you know, facts, like what Wayne Smith and I are looking for.

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