Letter: Focus should be on securing federal dollars

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To the editor,

“The Clean Water Fund Program is not broken. The dilemma is a lack of adequate federal and state financing. What is needed is not significant statutory change but rather financial support. It is this lack of funding that needs to be addressed by state policy and fiscal decision makers.”

The above statement is included in the Clean Water Fund Advisory Work Group Report submitted to the then DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy (now federal EPA administrator under President Obama) back in February 2007, under the leadership of former Gov. Jodi Rell.

The Clean Water Fund dilemma, and its increasing demands with diminishing fiscal resources, is an evaluation of the clean water fund with consideration for the potential impact to the environment and the possible fiscal ramifications for municipalities in the state. The Clean Water Fund Financial Assistance Program is a nationally recognized program administered by the Office of the Treasury and DEP that provides grants and low-interest loans to municipalities for wastewater treatment plant projects. Loans can be obtained for around 1.7 percent compared to market rates of around 3.7 percent or more and can fund 100 percent of project costs and have up to 20 years to repay the loan. Also, grants are available thru the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).

The DEP estimates that over $5 billion is needed in the next 20 years (until 2027) to fund wastewater treatment plants. At the time of this report, submitted to then Commissioner Gina McCarthy, $100 million was needed immediately to address the backlog of projects. An estimated $130 million a year of new obligation bonds in each of the next five years is needed (until year 2012) for new projects. In addition, at the time of this report, it stated that revenue bonds, which support the loan component of the CWF (clean water fund), can be sustained by the CWF at a rate of $90 million per year without additional debt service subsidy (general obligation bonds). Additional revenue bonds authorizations, estimated at $80 million beyond the annual $90 million sustainable revenue bonds, will be necessary to address program peak demands.

In conclusion the state should focus its efforts to secure more federal dollars in order to have the citizens of Connecticut have a better quality of life and especially if the federal government mandates that the work is to be done and not take anymore from the hands that feed it.
More important, municipalities can not afford corrective action based solely upon local property taxes. And, what documented proof do we citizens of Connecticut have of all above figures for which stated in this most detailed Clean Water Fund Advisory Work Group Report, submitted to then Commissioner Gina McCarthy in February 2007, have been met?

Our town of Naugatuck cannot afford any “sewer tax” or any other increase in any taxes.
With the word out that the state of Connecticut per Gov. Malloy and the OMB that our state could be in debt to a tune of $50 million to $100 million, I wonder if we have the money stated in the report above and enough, not only for our town of Naugatuck but for other towns as well.

Emidio Cerasale

Naugatuck