Surely the settlement of $7.5 million with Wright-Pierce Engineers marks a milestone and a change of direction in the town’s sewer plight. No doubt it unburdens Wright-Pierce as well, notwithstanding the huge financial impact it will have on them. But before we celebrate victory, let’s take a minute to put this all in perspective.
As of the start of 2014, the Town’s annual report lists about $6 million in bonded debt related to the RIB system. The motion for costs that was filed but subsequently stayed lists $1.4 million in lawsuit related costs. So with this settlement we are back to square one.
I’m not talking about square one 2012 when we filed the lawsuit. I’m talking about square one April 19, 2005 – nearly ten years ago, when the NHDES declared the town’s effluent disposal capability inadequate and imposed a moratorium on future connections.
To be fair, the moratorium was lifted when the RIB was started up, but the town has said that the system is completely failed and must be abandoned. Moreover, for the past year the system has been operated at such a diminished capacity that it cannot keep up with the town’s effluent production.
The big question, after nearly ten years, is “Now What?”
Does the town use these funds to reimburse the sewer fund for $1.4 million in legal fees and to retire the debt incurred in building the soon to be abandoned RIB system?
Do the Selectmen and town manager stash away the proceeds of this settlement to be used at their discretion to make new capital projects appear to be paid for by the proceeds of this settlement?
Do the high sewer rates caused by the comedy of mismanagement of the system ever get reduced?
I think we all know the answers.