OSWPCA: Sunshine / Letter to Michael E. Cronin, Jr., Town Counsel, 4Apr11

Text facsimile

---------------------------> Joel R. Anderson

                             13 George Drive
                             Old Saybrook CT 06475-2636
                             860 388-9858
                             oswpca.com
                             govtwork.org
                             4 April 2011
Michael E. Cronin, Jr.
Old Saybrook Town Counsel
201 Main Street, P.O. Box 454
Old Saybrook CT 06475

Re: your 25Mar11 "Wastewater Management District" (quoted).

Dear Town Counsel Cronin:
As indicated in his letter to you, I strongly urge you to meet with Mr. Pace at your earliest convenience so that he can explain to you the rather complex financing arrangements the Town was required to do in order to enact the Sewer Avoidance Program.
Mr. Pace could have answered my letters. By "complex financing arrangements" do you mean the lies the Town told to get Federal money?
The language that was set forth in the Town Meeting was a Resolution which was drafted by the Town of Old Saybrook Bond Counsel.
I was under the impression that you, Mr. Cronin, are counsel to the Town of Old Saybrook, not counsel to Old Saybrook's Bond Counsel, or counsel to Michael A. Pace, 1st Selectman.
It was done in a manner which would legally allow the Town of Old Saybrook to receive the full funding of the project under the Federal Clean Water Act. A basic concept of this Act is that in order to receive the total amount of funds, the legislative body of the Town (in Old Saybrook, the Town Meeting) must appropriate the full amount.
Do I have this right? The Town represents that it has "sewers," though its "sewers" are actually septic systems declared to be "sewers" (because they're within a WWMD), because it needs Federal money for "sewers" - and the Town thinks that by failing to call a thing by its right name makes this legal.
As the project proceeds, and the monies from the Federal government are received, they are broken down into a formula in which 25% of the funds are an outright grant to the Town which needs not to be re-paid, and 25% is advanced on the basis of a loan which must be re-paid at 2% on a 20-year basis.
Irrelevant as far as WWMD property owners are concerned.
The remaining 50% will be the primary obligation of the individual property owner who receives the benefit of the on-site upgrade of that property owner's property.
When and by whom was this decided? No one voted for Old Saybrook's Bond Counsel. Referendum Question 2 said that the Town would pay. The 50% obligation on the part of property owners still needs explanation. The supposed "benefit" is bogus. Sewers would be a benefit. The WWMD isn't sewers.

The Town hasn't thought through what having "sewers" means. If the Town conflates septic systems and sewers, then the Town must provide, at Town expense, all the services that real sewers provide: installation, repair, replacement and maintenance (including AT systems), forever. Instead of a "Water Pollution Control Authority," the Town will have a "Sewer Department" in charge of a scattered system that's impossible to manage on private property.
This 50% will be in the nature of a lien against the property owner's property, and will be repaid by the property owner at the 2% rate over the same 20-year period. If, for whatever reason, a property owner neglects or fails to pay his, her, or its share of the project, then the Town of Old Saybrook (and its taxpayers) guarantee and are required to make that payment.
WWMD owners are on the hook under their "joint and several" liability. Why does the Town think the Town can make WWMD owners pay twice? Why would there be a lien against owners for something the Town wanted, the Town voted for, and the Town appropriated the money to pay for?

Under the Town's theory, the Town could require owners with boats in North Cove to pay half the cost of the Town's fireboat or have liens placed against their property.

The Town's failure to manage its wastewater is not anything that WWMD owners had a part in. Many, if not most, owners, are owners in due course. As such, they had a right to expect that the Town was managing its wastewater properly. Town codes and permits are supposed to prevent the precise situation that WWMD owners find themselves in today, the Town trying to rob their pocketbook for the Town's mistake.

The WWMD is not a tax district. Tax districts raise and spend their own money. Tax districts have undiluted representation. The WWMD doesn't pass this test. The Town does, but the Town doesn't want to pay. Why not? politics!
                             Very truly yours,


                             Joel R. Anderson

N.B: a copy of this letter is posted to oswpca.com.
  Electronic and paper copies have been distributed
  to interested parties.
c, via email:
Michael A. Pace, mpace@town.old-saybrook.ct.us,
William A. Peace, wpeace@town.old-saybrook.ct.us,
Carol Manning, cmanning@town.old-saybrook.ct.us,
Sarah Becker, sbecker@town.old-saybrook.ct.us,