First Selectman Daniel Jerram and Selectman David Rosengren
First Selectman Daniel Jerram and Selectman David Rosengren

NEW HARTFORD — Two virtual meetings about the town’s proposal to sell its water and sewer assets have been scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 2 p.m. and Monday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m.
Back in January, plans for the sale of the assets were discussed at a special Board of Selectmen’s meeting.
At the January meeting, Asset Evaluation Team (AET) chairman Denton Butler said that the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) is unable to sustain daily operations and debt repayment without losing money under the current schedule of operations fees that were made in June 2017.
According to Butler, the ending loss for the Fiscal Year 2019 was $203,850, while the deficit for Fiscal Year 2020 is estimated at $263,025.
Butler said that, after the town issued a Request For Proposals for the assets, Aquarion Water Company offered to buy the town’s assets for $8 million.
The last presentation given by the town about the proposed plan was back in March.
Further meetings have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the Board of Selectmen’s regular meeting on Tuesday, July 28, First Selectman Daniel Jerram said that he was eager to have more meetings and presentations.
“Our thing is we want people to participate and we want to continue,” Jerram said “We had a great interest in these meetings. Without serious objection, I want to continue.”
And indeed, Selectman David Rosengren had many objections.
Before the meeting, Rosengren sent emails to media outlets concerning the proposed sale of assets.
“People are away during the summer and you can’t expect them to Zoom in from their vacations,” Rosengren said. “This is an important decision implicating an $8 million sale to a private for-profit company. The presentation that Mr. Butler has put together, is inaccurate and in many instances deceptive. It tells an inaccurate tale of what brought us to this point. And it also does not allow for any contrary views during the 40 minutes that Mr. Butler has complete control of the monopoly over the microphone. We haven’t even gotten any answers to the written questions that the AET promised that they would answer back in January.”
Rosengren then cited a town ordinance 86-1 that he said that “says that the town users are not obligated in the first instance to pay for the debt service and the capital expenses associated with the plan.”
“I would also ask you why, in all of the WPCA meetings, and all of the AET meetings, 86-1 has not been shared with the members of those two committees?” Rosengren said. “And why since 2008, when you were elected, you never brought up that opinion or 86-1 to the then existing WPCA?”
“I will give you the answers to that, David because I know that you run around and write these things,” Jerram said in response. “Before I start, I would just say that I do not like when you describe volunteers that work hard as creating work that is inaccurate, or deliberately deceptive. I think that type of characterization by a sitting selectman of a volunteer is inappropriate. And I would think that you owe Mr. Butler an apology for his hard work, doing a job on the WPCA that in a large part you did not do while you were on the WPCA.”
Jerram went on to further criticize Rosengren.
“I have the town meeting minutes that indicate the splits of revenue or expenses that went to things, that were town meeting agreements that were voted on,” Jerram said. “When it says, where you say that the WPCA doesn’t have to pay debt service, in the idyllic sense, you are right. They don’t have to pay for debt service if they don’t want to. But when they make agreements with the town, they go to a town meeting, then their word is their bond. You say that we can just renege on these agreements, just really doesn’t float water. I have town meeting minutes when you were advocating and telling the Board of Finance that the rates were fine for the WPCA. That we just had a little problem with revenue in 2008 when you joined on. They were broke then. You send around these missives and try to deliberately deceive people that the problem with the WPCA is the debt service. But what you leave out to these folks that sign-on is that the WPCA hasn’t had the revenue to pay the debt service in three years.”
Jerram went on to criticize Rosengrin’s work when he was on the WPCA.
“When you were on the WPCA and you were not collecting rates, and you were not assigning liens and you were not catching scofflaws that were, eight to 10 families that were connected and not paying the fees, that was corrected when Butler came on the WPCA,” Jerram said. “I would choose my words carefully because he corrected a lot of the things that got left undone by the WPCAs in the past. He’s worked very hard to do so and has managed that operation quite well. When you say that the ordinance says you don’t have to pay that, that tells a tale or puts forth a proposition of the type of person you are, for you to say to renege on the deal. But fortunately, the selectmen are the keepers of the promise. When things go to town meetings we are here to try to the best of our ability to live to those agreements.”
Both Jerram and Rosengrin continued to go back and forth for the rest of the virtual meeting, with at one point Jerram muting Rosengrin to keep him from responding to Jerram’s remarks.