Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Facts about the Artesian Deal

I did address the breaking of the sewer contract deal with Artesian but it appears there are those that want to continue to muddy the waters. Fact #1: We didn’t break the deal, that was Artesian. Fact #2: We do have a plan as our DPW Director has already addressed. Fact #3: Commissioner Hodge eluded that the dirty little secret keeping the county from getting infrastructure in the growth corridor was due to lack of political will to increase rates. The current economy reflects a lack of development activity overall.  Therefore if we don’t have demand, raising the rates won’t address the issue. Instead we should be focusing on creating demand and developing shovel ready projects in the growth corridor. Fact #4: While the sewer sale would have taken some of the aging plants off the county’s hands, Artesian would have been acquiring Meadowview Treatment Plant well below the market value along with the ability to earn nutrient credits which they were not willing to share with the County. Fact #5: All of the Commissioners agreed that they had concerns in the contract they wanted to revisit with Artesian, but Artesian declined. They included: Sale of Meadowview Plant, possible sharing of nutrient credits, County servicing the Meadowview Bond, Timeline of Wastewater infrastructure implementation in Route 40 Corridor, wastewater expansion restricted to growth corridor, provide for clarity with respect to the drafting of water and sewer plan amendments, rate increase concerns, refinement of nutrient credit provision, who has growth control and was the county properly compensated for wastewater assets. The dirty little secret wasn’t the county’s lack of political will to raise rates. It was that Artesian’s priority was to provide infrastructure where the demand was which is usually residential, the attorney representing the county did not hold Artesian to a timeline commitment for getting infrastructure in the growth corridor and that Artesian puts the burden of infrastructure costs on the users by raising rates and hook up fees. Once again, Artesian is beholden to their stockholders to earn profits and the County Commissioners are elected to look out for the common good of the county. From the very beginning, the water sewer deal was fraught with conflict of interest and lack of transparency. Which reminds me: Mr. Cochrane you were removed from your appointed Cecil County Committees for not providing the required disclosures. Can you provide now to show your motives are for the benefit of the county and not for personal gain?