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CRRA Money Delayed
[December 15, 2007]

CRRA Money Delayed

(Hartford Courant, The (CT) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Dec. 15--The state Supreme Court on Friday issued a temporary stay of an order that the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority distribute $36.7 million to 70 municipalities that bore the cost of a failed deal between the authority and the now-bankrupt Enron Corp.

Lawyers for CRRA asked for the stay Monday after Superior Court Judge Dennis Eveleigh approved the towns' motions for an immediate distribution of the money and payment of $8.9 million to the towns' lawyers.

Eveleigh ruled June 19 in the towns' favor in a lawsuit they brought against the quasi-public state agency. Lawyers for CRRA have appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

The towns were the ultimate losers in a $220 million failed agreement in 2001 between CRRA and Enron Corp. The authority lent the money to Enron, which stopped paying the money back a couple months later when it filed for bankruptcy.

New Hartford and Barkhamsted filed the lawsuit against CRRA in 2003, and in 2006, a class action was certified on behalf of all 70 municipalities that make up the agency's Mid-Conn Project.

Paul Nonnenmacher, a CRRA spokesman, said the Supreme Court decision Friday was "nice but it's just an incremental development."

"It is an encouraging development, but it is just one step in what's going to be a long process as we work through our appeals at the Supreme Court," he said.

Joseph Meaney, one of the lead lawyers for the municipalities, said the towns are anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court's review of CRRA's motion in regard to Eveleigh's Dec. 7 order for distribution.

"We're hopeful this gets cleared up soon," said David Golub, another lawyer for the towns.

"The towns are surprised that CRRA filed this motion because CRRA did not object to the distribution at the Nov. 30 hearing before Judge Eveleigh," Golub said.

"The towns made budget plans for the money. I've been getting phone calls from many of the towns and they're wondering when they're going to get their money," Golub said.

Both sides in the dispute have filed numerous motions since the lawsuit was filed.

On Oct. 25, Eveleigh ordered CRRA to make adjustments in its 2008 budget and reduce by $7 million the tipping fees the towns have to pay for CRRA's disposal of their trash. The agency asked the Supreme Court to stay that order, too, but the court rejected the request.

Lawyers for CRRA have said that the towns, in effect, have sued themselves because CRRA is a quasi-public agency that was organized to serve the towns. Any money that CRRA recovers in lawsuits from the law firms and banks that were involved in the Enron deal would go back to the towns and be used to lower their tipping fees for trash disposal.

Contact Dan Uhlinger at .

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