Democrats and Republicans are pushing rival plans to oversee $700 million in construction at Nassau County’s sewage treatment plants amid negotiations over funding the county’s largest Superstorm Sandy recovery project.
County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican, ordered the creation of a 14-member Hurricane Sandy Wastewater Treatment Plant Advisory Committee and Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the Democratic minority leader, proposed legislation creating the Sewer and Storm Water Integrity Oversight Board.
“It is essential that we take every step to make permanent repairs to the plants,” Mangano said in a news release announcing his committee, which would be made up of environmentalists, civic leaders, union representatives and government appointees.
Abrams said in a statement that the Democrats’ proposal “would establish close legislative oversight of the rebuilding process and help ensure it is efficient and cost-effective.”
The dueling plans emerged before the county legislature debates at its meeting Monday borrowing more than $400 million, the balance after $262 million in borrowing was approved three weeks ago.
Democrats had withheld three votes for the full $700 million from the GOP-controlled body that needs a supermajority to approve bonding. The borrowing also requires approval of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the New York State-appointed control board for the county’s funding.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to reimburse the county for the cost of repairing and reinforcing the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which failed after the Oct. 29 storm, flooding homes and waterways with the worst Sandy-related sewage spill in the state.
Critics have said the Democratic legislative minority is risking federal Sandy aid funds drying up by slowing down the process, leaving the neighbors of the patched-up plant at risk if another storm hits.
Abrams said Democrats are “entirely committed” to approving the funds, “but adequate oversight of every aspect of the process is imperative in order to get the job done successfully.”