Cromwell Vote Allows Middletown To Join Mattabassett District [The Hartford Courant :: ]
(Hartford Courant (CT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 28--CROMWELL -- The town council approved a Mattabassett District charter change Wednesday that will allow Middletown to join the regional sewer district as a fourth voting member.
The council vote is a reversal of a September rejection of the charter change by the Cromwell Board of Selectmen, before the town changed to a town manager/town council form of government. The selectmen said at the time that they were unhappy with the proposed representation on the sewer district's board of directors.
The two other current member towns, Berlin and New Britain, have already ratified the new Mattabassett charter. Under the new charter, New Britain will have five seats on the district's board of directors, Middletown will have four and Cromwell and Berlin will have three seats each.
Cromwell Mayor Enzo Faienza said that although some council members are still not entirely happy with the representation, leaving the district as it is now is not beneficial to residents.
"When you look at everything in total, the best thing for our town and citizens was to get this thing passed," Faienza said. "I'm proud of our council for moving forward on this."
He said continuing to block Middletown's entry into the district declines a $13 million buy-in payment Middletown would make to the district and skips a $100,000 yearly payment to Cromwell as the host town.
"The Town of Cromwell is happy to welcome the City of Middletown to the Mattabassett District and is ready to move forward with support of the Mattabassett District as it continues to provide a necessary service for the preservation of the environment in our area," the town said in a statement.
Mattabassett District board Chairman William Candelori said Thursday the district's attorneys are reviewing the special act passed by the General Assembly in 2011 that allowed Mattabassett to revise its charter.
"They're looking at the logistics of the bill and trying to get some timelines for us," Candelori said.
One question is whether the board must call an special meeting immediately or whether the new board of directors can be set at the next regularly scheduled business meeting. New Britain will lose one of its six current members on the board of directors, and Middletown must appoint its four representatives.
Candelori said he is pleased that Cromwell approved the charter change, but said "a lot of time was wasted" over the last year.
"Cromwell finally came to a realization of a point we were trying to make right along that this is the best deal they're going to get. Not approving it has a negative impact on the ratepayers," Candelori said. "I never understood their position."
The Mattabassett District is in the midst of a $100 million expansion that will increase its treatment capacity and make the facility more environmentally friendly. Officials have said sewer bills will increase for ratepayers, but if Middletown joins the cost of the upgrade will be spread among residents of four towns rather than three.
Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew said he has already begun preparing appointments to the district board of directors.
"This is not just good for Middletown, it's good for everyone," Drew said. "We're moving quickly in the right direction and we all have the same goals. We're looking forward to working with everyone."
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