The Nassau County Coalition of Civic Associations (NCCCA) has lobbied for hearings on a plan to privatize the county’s sewage treatment system — and they may get their wish.
Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) informed the NCCCA that she will request hearings on the privatization plan at legislature meetings this spring. Ford said Wednesday that she submitted a request to hold hearings on Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s , which would involve selling or leasing the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh, Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway and Glen Cove Sewage Plant to a private company.
Ford, whose fourth legislative district covers the area serviced by the Bay Park plant, said she had concerns about Mangano’s plan, which is aimed at closing a more than $300 million budget deficit. She said the hearings would be aimed at addressing how privatization would impact the county’s three plants from a fiscal and environmental perspective as well as their workers.
“I’m not totally sold on the idea,” Ford said. “I do have concerns and that is why I want to hold hearings.”
Ford could prove to be a swing vote on whether the privatization plan gets the go-ahead. The Republicans control the legislature 10-9.
The county has issued a March 31 deadline for its request-for- proposals process to help determine a potential private operator for the three plants. The three companies in the running include British sewage treatment system supplier Severn Trent PLC; Paris-based Veolia Environment SA, which has its American headquarters in Lombard, Ill.; and United Water, Inc. of Harrington Park, N.J.
Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley was hired by the county as a consultant to oversee the RFP process.
NCCCA founder Claudia Borecky said Tuesday that she hopes the upcoming hearings will raise important issues about the potential plan before it comes to a vote. Borecky pointed out research conducted by the NCCCA that shows sewage rates are currently about $185 per year, but if plants are privately operated they could be roughly that same amount on a monthly basis.
“It’s a back-door tax,” Borecky said of the privatization plan.
Nassau Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker emphasized Wednesday that Mangano will make sure that residents are kept up to the speed on the privatization proposal.
“County Executive Mangano will soon hold public informational sessions that will inform the public of the facts and solutions for a productive way to move forward,” Walker said.