GOP Viewpoint: Unanswered sewer renovation questions need answers

The sewer project is the second largest capital request in the history of Ridgefield. This vote will impact Ridgefielders, their property values, taxes and how our town grows over the next 20 years. Given the enormity of this, the selectmen, Board of Finance and WPCA approvals, wouldn’t a taxpayer think the current Phase 2 documents and presentations posted on the town site would answer the following questions? They do not as of Sept. 30.    

Why is the Board of Selectmen and WPCA stating the sewer system cost is $48,000,000 when the actual cost is $62,800,000 when you add in $14,300,00 in interest? Why in all the published Phase 2 material is there no cost breakout available on the $48,000,000?

Why are the selectmen and WPCA advocating shutting a sewer plant and building a three-mile pipeline for $10,000,000 which includes a pumping station, pipeline and other costs? Why does their cost analysis not include the cost to restore the former sewer plant site that is being demolished? Why is Ridgefield, which recently invested over $1,000,000 in Haviland roadwork, tearing it up along with Lee Road, Limekiln and Farmingville for a pipeline?

Why are the selectmen and WPCA not building additional growth into the new sewer plant? Why is the town opting for a new design that prevents upgrades with all the numerous projects being proposed? Do the selectmen really believe Redding will sign an inter-local agreement for our Branchville expansion when they are actively marketing the wire mill site? Is this the most efficient use of funds? Is Ridgefield now locked into less than 1% grand list growth for the next 20 years?

Why are the selectmen and WPCA counting on $11,600,000 in state grants? Per the Final Clean Air Water Fund report, Ridgefield based on priority points is ranked the ninth in line to get funding. Why would the Democratic administration in Hartford give wealthy Ridgefield grants?   

Why are non-sewer users being asked to pay $11,000,000 for this project which includes $8,000,000 in bonds and $3,000,000 in interest? Non-sewer users will be charged twice for sewer, once for sewer dumping when our septic is pumped and a second time in town/school budgets. Why now a third time? Why are the people and businesses on the sewer systems not being charged for what they use?     

Why have the selectmen and WPCA not published a breakdown by year of how much the sewer fees and hook ups will increase to recover the $62,800,000 cost? Why are we not modernizing the sewer billing system and replacing it with a usage-based model like other towns? The current system requires subsidies from non-sewer users and penalizes empty nesters in town who do not use 350 gallons per day, why?  

We are told this is urgent, but no one is providing the details necessary to make an informed decision. If the questions above are not answered and the details not provided, we recommend the citizens vote no.

The Republican Town Committee submits this column to The Press.