City Administrator Tony Cox is playing it close to the vest as he works behind the scenes to save the Lowland Wastewater Plant contract. It's a $5 Million purchase, but that's just the tip of the money iceberg.
Wilbur Smith & Associates has estimated that it will take another $70 Million to complete a 5-phase construction program with force mains, gravity lines, pump stations, excavation, storm and water system repairs, etc.
So far Tony is making sure that discussions with or by City Council about the Lowland Wastewater Plant continue to take place in closed sessions with City Attorney Dick Jessee and recently-hired outside counsel Mark Mamantov of Knoxville. Tony is not scheduling any public discussions yet.
After today's 4:00 PM City Council meeting, the Mayor, councilmembers, and Tony Cox will retreat to the Mayor's conference room or will clear out the council chambers so they can hold yet another closed meeting with Jessee and Mamantov. The last announced closed meeting took place on November 16, 2010.
In my opinion, Tony is trying to get a consensus among enough councilmembers (4) to approve a few cosmetic changes to the contract--call it a "lease," add an "out" clause, and continue to pay MPLG (Mike Ball and Joe Fielden) $182,500 every year for 25 years to go along with the $750,000 already paid to Ball and Fielden.
Once the votes are in place, Tony will schedule a perfunctory public vote at a public meeting but with as little public discussion as possible.
Tony has already made the decision---or, more likely, knows that he is to carry out the decision/wish of others. Tony and others are more than happy to have the hard-pressed sewer customers of the City of Morristown pay even higher sewer fees to help pay for a dilapidated plant ($5M) and for all or part of the the additional millions ($70+ Million) needed for construction and upgrades to make this plant fully operational--even though the City has let its own sewer system go to pieces and is in the middle of a multi-million dollar repair process in that arena!
City of Morristown and Sewer: Let what you have fall apart, raise sewer rates, and throw MILLIONS of other people's money at it. And, while you're at it, buy a dilapidated plant, raise sewer rates, and throw MEGA-MILLIONS MORE of other people's money at it.