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Forum on Sewage Privatization Plan Held in Bellmore

Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg, D-Merrick, is critical of proposal that would impact Wantagh's Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant during meeting Tuesday.

Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg,D-Merrick, and local civic leader Claudia Borecky spoke out against Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano's at a public forum held at on Tuesday.

Mangano is pushing forward with the plan even though the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) rejected his with Morgan Stanley to broker a deal for the public-private partnership.

Denenberg said that the plan will put a dent in the wallets of taxpayers.

"This is the biggest giveaway of county assets that will cost county taxpayers forever," Denenberg said, "The bottom line is that the sewer tax will be converted into a rate that will go up at least 3 percent and as much as 10 percent per year."

Before NIFA's ruling, Mangano’s plan involved selecting United Water of Harrington Park, N.J., as a potential operator for the county’s sewage treatment system, which includes Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh, for at least 20 years. United Water would also operate the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway under the plan.

Mangano said that the public-private partnership is geared toward eliminating $750 million of the county's $3 billion debt.

"The county says that they are losing money and they are not," Denenberg said.

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Mangano said that the county would need to invest $300-$400 million into plants for the next three years without the public-private partnership. If United Water is approved as a operator, it would invest at least $400 million in capital improvements in the next ten years, Mangano said.

Denenberg said that the improvements would not benefit taxpayers.

"Any improvements will be charged back to you as a surcharge," he told residents.

Borecky, who is president of the North and Central Merrick Civic Association, said that none of the money invested will go into the plants.

"We American Water customers know how much more we are paying for private water than our neighbors who have public water," said Borecky, who the  in the spring to fight against Mangano's plan. "Our sewer system needs help and yet not one penny that the investor is giving us is going toward improving the plants." 

Denenberg and Borecky told residents to speak out on the matter.

"We need your help," Denenberg said. "We should have a public hearing on what will actually be in the United Water contract and a public hearing on if we want an asset to be in the hands of a private entity."

Borecky urged attendees to go to Nassau County Legislature’s Chambers in Mineola on Aug. 6 at 12:15 p.m.

"This may be our last chance to tell our legislators that we want hearings now," she said. "They will probably hold a hearing on the day that the legislators will vote to approve a privatization deal that will keep us captive to a private company for decades.  The people need not only to hear, but have a voice in a decision that will impact their lives forever."

Andrew Coen contributed to this report.

Wayne Smith July 25, 2012 at 07:44 PM
I've raised this issue before and I'll raise it again in the hope that I might actually get a clear answer. The sewage infrastructure in Nassau County is, as indicated, in need of serious investment to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Absent serious capital improvements, facilities such as Bay Park will continue to pollute the south shore. Cedar Creek has also been cited by the DEC. I realize that there are very serious questions about privatization, but there are also serious questions about maintaining the status quo. The biggest question is where does a county that is teetering on the verge of insolvency find $300-$400 million to fix this rotting system? I'm not for or against privatization per se. What I am for is having enough information to make an intelligent decision and in my view, despite all the controversy, that's not the case in this situation. And in part, that's because, at least to my knowledge, no one has answered the question I've raised: if privatization is really not viable, where is the money going to come from to fix what's broken?
Patrick July 26, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Did Dave or Caludia offer any alternative? Or did they just oppose what was presented. Typical Dave Denennberg and the rest, not surprising.

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