Let’s rebuild the sewage plants the right way
To the Editor:
Let me begin by affirming that the Democratic caucus of the Nassau County Legislature is committed to funding every cent necessary to rebuild our sewage treatment plants that were damaged during Superstorm Sandy. However, we believe that before we authorize more funding, there are three enormous interrelated problems the county faces that must be addressed.
First, the reckless borrowing and spending by County Executive Ed Mangano has caused Nassau’s debt to soar to $3.5 billion. Second, the reconstruction of the sewage treatment plants will require an additional $1 billion in borrowed funds, so it must be closely monitored in the wake of federal, state and local investigations stemming from previous post-Sandy contracts. Lastly, the funding for repairs must be secured in phases and properly monitored to ensure timely completion and maximum federal reimbursement.
Under Mangano, public debt has ballooned to the highest level in the history of Nassau County. If this crisis is not addressed, it will cripple Nassau’s chances for economic recovery and future prosperity. Business will continue to suffer, taxes will soar, infrastructure will further decay and quality of life will plummet as Nassau taxpayers struggle for decades to dig out of a fiscal hole.
The rebuilding of the sewage treatment plants would be the largest public works project in the county’s history. It would be foolish and irresponsible to have no legislative oversight on this project, and we can’t risk being denied federal reimbursement because of improprieties in the contracting process.
Last month, the Democrats in the Legislature authorized $262 million, in accordance with the county executive’s plan for the third quarter of the year, to start the process of rebuilding the plants. Almost half of this expenditure will be for storm restoration. It will also pay for digesters, pumps and odor control.
We want to see projects done right, on time and at or under budget. Our plan is to require regular updates and public hearings on the progress of the rebuilding, and to approve borrowing when it is justified and necessary.
Over the next few weeks, legislators will be touring the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, speaking with county engineers, plant workers and representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency about specifications, design and reimbursement procedures.
Nassau County Legislature
The Herald’s most recent editorial on the county’s sewage treatment challenges, “Treatment plant politics just stink,” appeared in last week’s issue.