By Eden Laikin
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano would be able to eliminate a quarter of Nassau’s debt, or $750 million – and protect the County’s bays and ocean – under an historic Debt Reduction and Sewer Stabilization Plan released today.
The plan to cut 25% of the County’s $3 billion debt would also stabilize Nassau County’s Sewer Authority which is set to face bankruptcy in 2014, as warned by the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) in its October 2009 report, because cash reserves were depleted over the last decade.
County Executive Mangano said the bold plan to enter into a private-public partnership with an experienced firm to operate Nassau’s three sewer treatment plants, would protect taxpayers by freezing sewer rates.
“Nassau County has the highest debt of any County in the state as past administrations racked up staggering debt while ignoring structural fiscal problems,” he said. “While Suffolk County’s total is $1.35 billion, Nassau’s exceeds $3 billion. It’s time to pay down this debt and take it off the backs of our children.”
Mangano said the sewer privatization would also generate millions in reoccurring savings for the County – an “action that will protect our taxpayers, children and our environment.”
Nassau’s three wastewater treatment plants – Bay Park, Cedar Creek and Glen Cove – had fallen into a dangerous state of disrepair over the past decade, county officials said. In fact, the plants have racked up over $1 million in Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) fines.
On Friday, the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant saw its second major power plant failure in just over one month. Problems continue as the manufacturers find themselves unable to service the plant as parts are too old.
If approved by the County Legislature, Mangano’s plan would require a private operator to make necessary and costly improvements needed at the plants.
“For over a decade no one has had the political courage to tell residents our sewage treatment plants are broken and are polluting our waterways on a regular basis,” County Executive Mangano added. “That comes to an end today!”
The County, along with representatives from the Nassau County Department of Public Works and potential operator United Water , will host a series of informational meetings for the public prior to sending any plan to the Nassau County Legislature. The public hearings will take place at 6:00 p.m. on May 9th at the Cedar Creek Sewage Treatment Plant, May 16th at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant and on May 17th at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building.
Joining County Executive Mangano at the press conference was United Water’s CEO Bertrand Canus and Vice President Gary Albertson.