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First Selectman Herbst, Challenger Mark, Clash on Sewer Costs

Trumbull Town Hall, statue of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull
Trumbull Town Hall, statue of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull

This is the third in a series of articles based on statements from GOP First Selectman Tim Herbst and his Democratic Challenger, Martha Jankovic-Mark.

The Trumbull Water Pollution Control Authority, whose members are appointed by First Selectman Tim Herbst, has increased its spending, Herbst's challenger argued.

"Over the past three years, the Herbst WPCA has run over budget on the North Nichols sewer project, while the completion of that work has dragged on,” Mark said. “They passed $10 million of that cost on to all Trumbull taxpayers—even those who don’t use sewers. This is not responsible management.”

Herbst's reply began with accusing members of Ray Baldwin Jr.'s Democratic administration of "rubber-stamping" high cost items such as the north Nichols sewer project.

"Mrs. Mark and Trumbull Democrats borrowed $120 million in a five-year period when they supported a $73-million renovation of Trumbull High School and gave Mark IV Construction an open check book in Jog Hill and North Nichols," he said.     

Democrat-controlled boards and commissions raised taxes 54 percent in eight years, Herbst said. 

"They even rammed through the North Nichols project six weeks before an election and allowed contracts to be executed that did not have termination provisions that would have provided the town a way out," according to Herbst. "As a result of their reckless judgment, the Town is now in civil litigation on Contract 3 (Jog Hill) and arbitration on Contract 4 (North Nichols). The high school project has been a huge disappointment, now more than a year over-schedule and we are now proceeding with an audit of this project."

The FBI was also probing the sewer project, which Herbst said had cost overruns and was not properly bid. The Jog Hill Road project has also led to a lawsuit from the WPCA.

He also criticized the practice of the Democratic Town Committee accepting political contributions from Mark IV Construction and $50,000 for summer concerts.

Regarding the $10 million in non-sewer related costs, Herbst argued that all taxpayers should fund road paving because everyone uses the roads.

Meanwhile, Mark took issue with WPCA statements the 34 percent increase in sewer use fees was "inherited" that the fees would only increase over time.

“I reject this dismissive attitude,” Jankovic-Mark said. “As first selectman, I will explore ways to roll back these increases, and charge sewer users for the water that actually enters the system,” she said.

Mark also called for a financial audit of the WPCA.  "The WPCA has been talking about an audit of their books since 2010. Mr. Herbst has called for several audits, but he's stood by silently while his WPCA has procrastinated for three years on an audit of their own books. Enough is enough."



Thomas Tesoro August 12, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Let's correct some factual errors first. The funds approved for the THS renovation as new were 68 million dollars not the 73 million dollars Mr. Herbst stated. This amount was reduced by the approximately 30% State reimbursement for the project. The final bonding amount after the reimburement would be approximately 48 million dollars. This means Trumbull Taxpayers would have received 68 million dollars worth of work for 48 million dollars. Unfortunately, the final numbers were muddled by the Republican Town Council who took 4 million out of the project, restored two million then took out a million. This knee jerk reactionary approcah is hardly good management. Another point is that the THS renovation was studied over a period of YEARS. That is right, not one evening, or days but YEARS. I participated in those meetings both as a private citizen and as an elected official. A new high school was over 100 million dollars...way too expensive and unnecessary. Lesser alternatives would come at a lower reimbursement and leave undone for the future work that was needed...we determined that kicking the can down the road was a bad idea. The "as new" renovation was cost effective and the right approach.The final Town Council vote was 19 to 1 in favor of the renovation as new, a bi-partisan vote. If Mr. Herbst wants to flail about with his criticism, he should get his facts straight and respect the intelligence of Trumbull citizens by telling the whole story.
junkerstogems@charter.net August 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM
I don't mind paying to help pave the roads, if the town is not going to ensure that they are packed well enough for settling then the roads will be lumpy just like what has happened to D. F. Road. it's getting to the point of being unsafe. Then I'm not interested in paying the way. Or if I don't live anywhere near where the paying is taking place. I think its time for Herbst to move on to another town where they wont care if he cant get the figures correct.
TrumbullSr August 13, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I remember a campaign piece from the election that some people took exception to, the "empty suit" piece. Seems that was the most accurate description of the FS. He keep blaming others for his ineptitude, throws about numbers that have no basis in reality and rewrites history at every turn. It seem he has never met a fact that he won't ignore. Trumbull taxpayers will be paying for immature mistakes and creative accounting methods for years to come in the future. At least when the future FS blames Mr. Herbst for tax increases he/she will be accurate.
Jim Flynn August 13, 2013 at 03:21 PM
There comes a point where a true leader takes ownership of his town's issues and stops blaming past administration. Mr. Herbst has not reached that level despite his being FS for almost 4 years. Mr. Herbst never fails to blame his problems on Ray Baldwin's administration - it's always Ray's fault - but I think he reached a new low when he felt the need to go back 20 years to blame the then FS for his current WPCA nightmare. Moreover, wasn't Ms. Marks a Republican during the Baldwin years. Can't blame her can you.

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