May 04, 2012
By JONATHAN WALTER
Standard Staff Reporter
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano unveiled a plan to eliminate $750 million, or 25 percent of the county’s debt on Thursday at an afternoon press conference. Mangano expects the plan will help stabilize the county’s sewer system which is expected to go bankrupt by 2014 according to a 2009 report by the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority.
“Nassau County has the highest debt of any County in the state as past administrations racked up staggering debt while ignoring structural fiscal problems,” Mangano said. “While Suffolk County’s total is $1.35 billion, Nassau’s exceeds $3 billion. This plan allows the County to retire approximately 25 percent of Nassau’s debt and generate millions in recurring savings for the County to hold the line on property taxes by implementing a public-private-partnership for the maintenance and operation of Nassau’s sewers.”
A public-private-partnership was one of the potential options Mangano described last month regards to privatizing the sewer system. The county’s biggest focus has been making upgrades to the Bay Park sewage plant as well as the Cedar Creek plant. However, both Lawrence and Cedarhurst’s plants are not expected to be included in the public-private-partnership plan.
“They want to decommission them and move that sewage to Pay Park, that’s the future plan, but that’s not going to happen until Bay Park is a model citizen,” Nassau County Legislator Howard Kopel said.
The County established a plan to take responsibility for the Lawrence (21 miles of sewers) and Cedarhurst (23 miles of sewers) sewage facilities during Tom Suozzi’s term in office and the county officially took control this year. Cedarhurst’s sewage plant currently has a maximum permitted flow of one million gallons per day (mgd) and currently averages .78 mgd, while Lawrence’s plant allows a maximum of 1.5 mgd while currently averaging 1.3 mgd.
“The Department of Public Works is making all necessary repairs and improvements so that the two plants meet permit and are in compliance with any State requirements,” Department of Public Works spokesman Mike Martino said.
Mangano said that the county’s plants have totaled over $1 million in Department of Environmental Control (DEC) fines. The county’s plans will require a private operator to make necessary upgrades to the sewage treatment system. United Water has been named as a candidate for operator.
“The County Executive figures that a private company will do things better faster and cheaper,” Kopel said. “We’re looking at the plan. It’s not nearly ready for prime time because they need to put the financial portion of it. I’m still skeptical and I’ll remain skeptical until I see the entire package. I believe in the potential but need to see the specifics. I need to be fully convinced that under this plan, Bay Park is going to get a lot better and rates are going to remain stable. The plan is to avoid bankruptcy.”
The county will be hosting three public information meetings regarding the implementation of their plan, all at 6:00 p.m. There will be one on May 9th at Cedar Creek plant in Seaford, May 16th at Bay Park plant in Bay Park, and one at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building on May 17th.
About the Author: