Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is pressing forward with sewage privatization plans despite the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) rejecting his proposed contract with Morgan Stanley to broker a deal for the public-private partnership.
Brian Nevin, communications director for Mangano, said the county executive is in the process of revisiting his debt reduction and sewer stabilization plan with NIFA. The government wathdog panel voted 5-0 to oppose Mangano's plan in mid May and expressed concerns over potential user fee increases that could result over the long term from the public-private partnership.
Prior to NIFA’s ruling, Mangano’s plan involved selecting Harrington Park, N.J. -based United Water 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. Under the plan, United Water would also operate the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway.
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The public-private partnership that Mangano has been touting, including at a held at Cedar Creek on May 9, is geared toward eliminating $750 million, or 25 percent, of the county's $3 billion debt. He said without the public-private partnership, the county would need to invest $300-$400 million into the plants for the next three years. If approved as operator, United Water would invest at least $400 million in capital improvements during the next decade, Mangano has stated.
Cedar Creek Oversight Committee Co-chairman Phil Franco is fighting against Mangano’s plan because of concerns about how the Wantagh plant would be operated by a private operator and the impact on sewer rates for taxpayers. Franco is also president of the Seaford Harbor Civic Association and in April was as a regional director for the Nassau County Coalition of Civic Associations, which is opposed to the sewage privatization proposal and is in the process of trying to bring the issue to a public referendum.
"The more people hear about this the more they hate it," Franco said. "This is not in the best interest of the taxpayers."