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Mangano Presses Forward with Sewage Privatization Plan

Opponents of county executive's proposal for a private operator at Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh hope to bring issue to public referendum.

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." 

rick donovan July 05, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Mangano just does not get it!!! He will end his term with Nassau County BEYOND REPAIR!!!!
Diane Stephan July 05, 2012 at 02:38 PM
People won't be happy until this place blows up. http://www.longislandpress.com/2010/04/29/nassaus-cedar-creek-sewage-plant-is-a-toxic-time-bomb/
Robert Demarco July 05, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Just like Gulotta: sell off the assets. One time fixes. Except this is a vital piece of infrastructure.
Chris Wendt July 05, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Watching the video posted by Diane Stephan (go ahead, watch it http://www.longislandpress.com/2010/04/29/nassaus-cedar-creek-sewage-plant-is-a-toxic-time-bomb/, to the end) really makes the case that the County is not capable of safely or efficiently operating the Cedar Creed plant. Tons of money has been allocated and spent to maintain Cedar Creek, yet, according to the video, the plant is supposedly a time bomb! I say, let's put a professional corporation in charge of operating this plant, for everyone'e peace of mind.
Hollingsworth July 05, 2012 at 10:20 PM
The County would be paying United Water $60-$80 million to operate the plants. They are not giving the County one penny. The County has bids out to find an investor who will give us $750 million to pay off sewer debt and pay down $285 million in county-wide debt. Not one penny is going to implementing improvements in the plants. The $400 million that they plan to put into the plants is money already approved by the PAST administration that was supposed to have been completed by the end of next year. United Water plans on implementing the improvements (not paying for them) and doing it over 10 years (instead of five). The investor will borrow the low-interest municipal bonds that were already approved, spend the money over 10 years and play around with that money by investiging in high-yielding funds. The investor will charge us a SEPARATE SEWER BILL ontop of our SEWER TAXES. My question is that if United Water will do a better job for less, why don't we just hire them? What do we need an investor who is really buying our debt which we will be paying back for decades?
Chris Wendt July 06, 2012 at 12:00 AM
@ Hollingsworth: "United Water plans on implementing the improvements (not paying for them) and doing it over 10 years (instead of five)." So, you are in effect saying that Cedar Creek is NOT "time bomb"? Five years...ten years...neither of those time frames indicates any sense of urgency...tick...tick...tick! Belated question re the article...a sewer treatment plant is a sensitive and vital installation. Why was a reporter allowed on top of a tank, and why was he allowed to attempt to operate a valve that was allegedly known to have been frozen for the past 3 years, in a reportedly methane-contaminated environment, apparently without Personal Protective Equipment? Is there no security down there? No protocols or engineering procedures required to be followed for plant operations? Or are disgruntled employees and former employees excused from having to follow those procedures? To my point, here, I wonder what NYSDEC would have to say about all of this, but especially about what I inferred to have been high-risk political grand-standing, a reporter climbing a tank, choking on methane?
Phillip Franco July 07, 2012 at 07:01 AM
Chris Wendt your info is old and outdated. All the most critical methane issues were addressed by the Mangano Administration late 2010. The plant security has been hardened by the Office of Emergency Management in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security. The county can do a great job when it wants to.
Nassau Taxpayer July 07, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Paraphrasing Senator Carl Levin, "a sh*tty deal"
Mista Lou July 08, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Not only is Mangano trying to privitaize the sewers, which NIFA does not endorse. He plans on using a company based in New Jersey!!! Maybe HE should go to New Jersey. He'd probably wind up being best buds with that other crazy, Chris Christie!
Phillip Franco July 12, 2012 at 04:58 AM
It is a French company only based out of New jersey; talk about outsourcing! .

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