OSWPCA: Sunshine / Letter to Michael A. Pace, 1st Selectman, 15Mar11

Text facsimile

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

                          13 George Drive
                          Old Saybrook CT 06475-2636
                          860 388-9858
                          oswpca.com
                          govtwork.org
                          15 March 2011
Michael A. Pace, First Selectman
Town of Old Saybrook
302 Main Street
Old Saybrook CT 06475-2384

To make a mistake and not to correct it is to
make another mistake.
- Chinese proverb

Dear First Selectman Pace:

The palest ink is better than the best memory.
"The town referendum [establishing the Wastewater Management District] was for $43 million - our [town government] share is a $10 million loan through the Clean Water Funds and a $10 million grant from the Clean Water Funds; another $23 million is from residents'" payments of their share of each septic upgrade's costs, said Pace.

In the financing plan for the Wastewater Management District's septic upgrade projects, each property owner pays 50 percent of the cost to upgrade his or her septic systems, the town pays 25 percent, and 25 percent is paid by a Clean Water Fund grant.

- "Town Spending to Drop by Three Percent,"
    Harbor News, 10Mar2011
The 11Aug2009 Referendum didn't say that "each property owner pays 50 percent."
QUESTION 1. SHALL THE TOWN OF OLD SAYBROOK APPROVE THE DECENTRALIZED WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT ORDINANCE?

QUESTION 2. SHALL THE TOWN OF OLD SAYBROOK APPROPRIATE $42,171,200 FOR THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF DECENTRALIZED WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS WITHIN THE DECENTRALIZED WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT AND ISSUE THE TOWN'S BONDS, NOTES OR OTHER OBLIGATIONS IN AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $42,171,200 TO FINANCE SAID APPROPRIATION, AND PROVIDE ONGOING FUNDING OF ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS FOR THE SYSTEMS?
QUESTION 2 said that "THE TOWN" shall appropriate the money for WWMD construction. QUESTION 2 did NOT say that the Town would appropriate half the money, and that owners residing within the WWMD would put up the other half; which is the Town's post-Referendum financing scheme.

To the detriment of the Town's financing scheme, Questions submitted for public decision by Referendum are decided by the Referendum. That decision can't be modified by the Town. (If the Town didn't want to be bound by the Referendum, it shouldn't have submitted the Question to a Referendum.)

"Payments of their share of each septic upgrade's costs."

Were the WWMD valid, which is seriously in doubt, then the WWMD-owners' "share" would be limited to the extent of their "joint and several" liability as taxpayers.

Back-charging WWMD-owners is not a tax, nor can it be a tax, because the Town can't reasonably tax for delivering negligence - negligence is not a benefit. The Town agreed with the State that it was the Town that was negligent. (Were the Town not negligent, why would the Town agree to pay anything?) The Town must pay for its negligence.

What legal fiction is the Town relying on to back-charge the victims of the Town's negligence, the fiction that would have the victims of the Town's negligence pay half the total cost of the Town's negligence?

If you have a legal opinion supporting the Town's suggested split on financing, please send me a copy and I will publish it on oswpca.com. If the Town has no legal opinion, we who live within (and without) the WWMD can only conclude that there is no basis in law for the Town's back-charge scheme.

Why put the Town to the expense of a lawsuit it will lose?
                          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:
William A. Peace, Selectman
Town of Old Saybrook
302 Main Street
Old Saybrook CT 06475-2384

Carol Manning, Selectman
Town of Old Saybrook
302 Main Street
Old Saybrook CT 06475-2384

Sarah Becker, Town Clerk
Town of Old Saybrook
302 Main Street
Old Saybrook CT 06475-2384