The Cape Charles budget was approved last week by Town Council, and residents will be facing a wastewater bill of $63.07. Combined with a water rate of $30.21, monthly bills are running well over $100.00.
Why are the rates in Cape Charles this high given the rural nature of where we live?
The gouging of citizens once again has its roots in the failure of the town to pursue the annexation agreement with Bay Creek South, LLC.
In 2013, the original rate hike occurred after the town stopped pursuing the developer to pay for the new wastewater plant, and constructed it themselves. The rate hike in 2013, $35.45 to $60.85 was needed to meet the debt service on the new sewer plant.
Brief Historical Refresher
In the early 1990s, Texas-based construction company Brown & Root purchased land that might have been leveraged to accommodate offshore drilling. When that did not materialize, Plan 9 from Outer Space was to develop a local tract of land called “Accawmacke Plantation”.
Having hit hard times, the Commission on Local Government in a 1991 report noted that the Brown & Root planned development would provide Cape Charles an economic shot in the arm while giving the developer access to town services—a win/win for both.
In the report from the commission, they wrote, “Brown and Root have predicated its development plans on the incorporation of all its property into the Town of Cape Charles and on the expansion and utilization of the Town’s utility system. To this end, Brown and Root has entered into an agreement with the Town by which it has committed itself to supporting the proposed annexation and to investing its resources into an expansion and enhancement of municipal facilities.”
In 1991, the Town of Cape Charles annexed the property which is now Bay Creek.
Boulevard of Broken Promises
While everything seemed on the up and up, part of the Annexation Agreement required the developer to do some things. Importantly, they were to submit a permit to the State Water Control Board for the initial expansion of the wastewater plant. This was supposed to be submitted within 90 days of signing the agreement.
The developer, of course, did not submit the application, and of course, the town did nothing about it. By the time Brown & Root sold the property to Richard “Dickie” Foster, none of the required improvements to the wastewater plant had been undertaken.
Those agreements found in the annexation agreement then fell on the new owners, “The obligations of Brown and Root, contained herein . . . shall run with the land and be binding upon the subsequent owners of Accawmacke Plantation, which owners shall assume all of the obligations and relieve the prior owner thereof.”
The town and Bay Creek kicked the can down the road until 2008, when the DEQ alerted the town that it would have to, under the Clean Water Act of 1972, reduce effluent levels being poured into the bay—they would need to build a new plant to meet those requirements.
The project fell on the shoulders of the assistant town manager Bob Panek.
Seeing the financial clouds gathering, the town began an effort to get Bay Creek to pony up what was agreed upon in the annexation agreement—pay its share to upgrade the plant.
In a letter sent to Steve Bennett, the then-Construction Manager for Bay Creek, the town gave Bay Creek two options, a bulk payment of $21 million, or $9 million along with water connection charges of almost $11 thousand.
Bay Creek balked, and the town threatened to begin invoicing them beginning in July 2008. An invoice of $42,000 was sent but apparently was never paid.
In January of 2009, then-Mayor Sullivan sent a letter to Richard Foster stating why the town believed Bay Creek was obligated to pay its share of the wastewater treatment plant capacity expansion:
You state in your letter, “I want to understand what you expect of me? What “movement” are you looking for?” In short, I expect you to pay the bills for the Bay Creek share (34%) of design and construction of the new WWTP as they are rendered by the Town. After application of anticipated grant revenues, we expect the Bay Creek share will be about $3.5 million to $4.5 million. As indicated in our September 12, 2008 letter, absent these revenues the Town will need to consider downsizing the WWTP to minimize the financial risk to existing wastewater customers. This will result in significantly higher costs in just a few years, as noted above, to build capacity beyond 250,000 GPD. The greater portion of these higher costs, 68%, will fall to Bay Creek.
At this point, the town appears to have given up on getting the money from Bay Creek and turned to builders and citizens to extract the needed cash.
Town Council voted to increase the wastewater rate from $25.40 to $34.30 per month as well as increasing water and sewer connection charges from $10,047 to $20,000.
A letter from Mayor Sullivan noted, “owners of unimproved lots, residential buildings without connection, and commercial buildings” would be getting the increases starting July 1, 2009,
“These charges have been increased to fund the cost of providing future water and wastewater system capacity.”
As you stare blankly at the at the numbers on the current budget sheet, and you wonder why the utility rates are so exorbitant, it is because you are paying on the debt service for the wastewater plant. You were not supposed to. Most communities would be outraged over this, but here in Cape Charles where most everyone has been lobotomized by wine and golf carts, they are content to just bend over and smile. Or as one citizen commented, they are too busy enjoying “our resurgent town”. So it goes.
Like the Loch Ness monster and Big Foot, one of the strangest mysteries is the case of the vanishing annexation agreement. From 1991 until 2008, it existed. Then suddenly, it just disappeared. Maybe someday Bob Panek, Dora Sullivan, Steve Bennett, Joan Natali or Chris Bannon can enlighten us on its sudden disappearance.
Oh, and one more thing. The annexation agreement is a legislative act of the State of Virginia, Law No.27. Willingly failing to abide by its stipulations is a crime.
Less we forget the connector road, also to be paid for by Bay Creek South, LLC.
Paul Plante says
How we wish we had the Cape Charles Mirror up here to the north of Cape Charles, instead of the gutless rags we are stuck with!
David N Metheny says
There is an entire group of ratepayers who are getting screwed. Find one of them who is willing to file a lawsuit on behalf of all of them. Holding a party to their contractual promises is one of the primary realms of our civil judicial system. The new owners – Sinclair Broadcasting – have the resources to settle the issues flowing from the development of Bay Creek. It is time for them to make an offer put this to rest or the town needs to aggressively pursue what it is owed.
Paul Plante says
With respect to public officials and the concept of public responsibility on their part, the concept is very much a joke today precisely because citizens are unwilling or unable to hold public officials accountable.
As can be see from “A Freeman III” political philosophy essay by “A Freeman” in the Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia, on February 06, 1788, the philosophy towards public officials who were screwing the public back then was quite different from the very lax standards which prevail today:
IMPEACHMENTS within the several states will afford them opportunities of exerting the most dignified and aweful powers of sovereignty.
The people of every state, by their constitutional representatives, may impeach the public officer, however great or daring, that shall presume to violate their exclusive rights, or offend against the peace and dignity of their commonwealth, and may punish him, on conviction, by fine, imprisonment or death, without any possible interference of Congress.
We should go back to that is my thought, if we want good government in this nation.
David Gay says
I wonder if we will hear anything from our so called elected “REPRESENTATIVES “. They are suppose to look out for the voters interest. We should not have to sue our own town government to do the right and legal think. Come on Paul and Tammy we elected you to make changes. So far haven’t seen much difference between the old crowd and the new.
Note: True that, Mr. Gay. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Daniel Burke says
Out of “The Gang of Five” one quit (twice), one got voted out and one got driven out. Three down and two to go. Maybe the new Council will find the guts to make it right??? Good job on the reporting.
Rob White says
Things that you can trust more than communist liberal or their ilk…
• Mexican tap water
• A wolverine with a ‘pet me’ sign
• A mixed drink made by Bill Cosby
• A straight edge shave from Jodi Arias
• A “Coin Toss” at a local Iowa Caucus
• An elevator ride with Ray Rice
• A night out with Aaron Hernandez
• Brian Williams memory
• A cigar offered to me by Bill Clinton
• Pete Carroll coaching decisions
• Loch Ness monster sightings
• OJ Simpson showing me his knife collection
• A North Korea “Satellite” launch
• Hilary Clinton’s investigation into Benghazi
• Prayers for peace from Al Sharpton
• MSNBC’s news reports
• Lorena Bobbit showing me her scissor collection.
• Gas station Sushi
• Casey Anthony babysitting ads on craigslist
• Killery’s claim that no American lives were lost in Libya
• A Jimmy Carter economic plan
• Bill Clinton’s claim he never had inappropriate relationships
• An Obama Nuclear deal with Iran
• Michael Jackson’s Doctor
• DNC’s IT department
• Duck hunting with Dick Cheney
• MeCHA, La Raza, and LULAC’s claim they’re not racists
• A Jeffery Dahmer dinner invitation
• Obama’s investigation into the IRS Targeting Scandal
• The Boy that cried Wolf
• The verification of Oblamo’s birth certificate
• Songbird McCain’s loyalty to his military comrades, our country, or his party
• Harry Reid’s exercise equipment
• Tying Anthony Weiner’s shoes
• A direct number to the State Department in case of a riot
• A factory packed parachute
• A Federal Reserve audit
• Biden’s home defense shotgun plan
• A kiss from Judas
• An evening car ride with Ted Kennedy
• A private hotel luncheon with Harvey Weinstein
• Democrat Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s claim the Constitution is over 400 years old
• An Afghan wearing a backpack
• A Supreme Court decision
• muslims assertion that islam is a religion of peace
• Keeping my healthcare plan
• A police report filed by former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields
• A North Korea trial by jury
• A BIC pen that doesn’t leak
• Flint Michigan water supply
• Democrat CA State Senator Kevin de Leon’s knowledge of firearms (ghost gun “dispensing” 30 round caliber magazine clip in 1/2 sec.)
• Democrat Congressman Hank Johnson’s warning that the island of Guam will capsize.
• A chinese newspaper
• Bill Clinton at a Girl Scout convention.
• Democrat Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s request if the Pathfinder had succeeded in taking a picture of the flag planted on Mars by Neil Armstrong in 1969.
• Baghdad Bob’s intel reports
• Prayers from Glenn Beck
• Lying Ted’s version of “truth”
• Electronic Voting Machines
• Obumbler’s “Oath of Office”
• Paul “let’s repeal- VACATE THE CHAIR” Ryan…..
• A business proposition from the Nigerian Minister of Finance
• A week old tuna fish sandwich found on a filthy city bus
Deborah Bender says
It’s all about the poop!
I wonder how much money Bob Panek made being project manager when the poop plant was built????
Madam X says
Oh, Deborah Bender, do yourself a favor, give it a rest.
Paul Plante says
Well said, Madam X, a good read, short and to the point.
But what about the alleged corruption?
Are you one of those who blindly accepts that it is just a part of the fabric of American politics now?
A lot are, you know.
Madam X says
Paul Plante, your choice to use the word “alleged” was apt.
Paul Plante says
While “alleged” might be apt, the facts would seem to lean heavily towards at least a major ****-up, if not outright endemic public corruption, which you know as well as I is as American as apple pie.
In fact, public corruption is an institution in America, as can be seen in this Albany, New York Times Union article entitled “Feeding off taxpayers no crime, lawyer says – Cronyism, big spending called usual government practice at Strevell trial” by James M. Odato published January 18, 2007, as follows:
ALBANY — A defense lawyer for the Rensselaer County entrepreneur whose organization got more than $1 million in member item grants directed by Sen. Joseph L. Bruno is arguing in federal court that dishonesty isn’t necessarily a federal offense.
William P. Fanciullo, lawyer for J. Felix Strevell, the former director of the now-defunct Institute for Entrepreneurship, also said that Strevell’s actions, including putting relatives on the state payroll, were normal practices in government.
Fanciullo asserted that the U.S. attorney’s case against Strevell is full of allegations that should not be classified as federal crimes.
Strevell is charged with nine counts of mail fraud and six counts of wire fraud.
The case before U.S. District Court Justice Gary L. Sharpe centers on Strevell’s lavish spending on himself and on parties that honored lawmakers who helped him get public money.
Among its funding sources, the institute received two $500,000 discretionary grants, known as member items, through Bruno in 1999 and 2001.
Strevell allegedly misused some of the $8 million in mostly taxpayer funds raised by the institute during his reign from 1998 to 2001, when he and his brother, Chauncey, the former chief operating officer, abruptly quit.
While at the institute, Strevell hired friends, relatives of powerful Republicans, his daughter and his daughter’s boyfriend.
He also used institute funds to purchase clothing and trips for himself and family members.
So it would not be at all surprising to find the same thought applying in resurgent Cape Charles – that feeding off the taxpayers is not a crime, but instead, a livelihood, a real good gig, as some would say.
And my goodness, Madam X, as any schoolchild in America knows, feeding off the taxpayers, as definitely seems to be the case here, is nothing new.
Consider p.149 of “The United States Supreme Court: The Pursuit of Justice” by Christopher Tomlins:
Westerners who were grappling with local cases of fraud resented having to pay off bonds for railroads that had never been built.
That is back in the 1880s, when the railroads controlled the U.S. senate and the appointment of federal judges by the simple expedient of buying up state legislatures by the pound, peck and bushel, since at that time, it was the state legislatures which appoint U.S. senators.
And again, as any American schoolchild knows, it was so-called “public servants” feeding off the taxpayers that was a cause of the American Revolution, to wit:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
It never ended, did it, Madam X.
If it did, we wouldn’t be commenting on this story today, would we?
Nioaka Marshall says
Maybe if you quit hiding behind a pseudonym, people would listen. Debbie can say what she pleases! Freedom of speech!! Who do you think you are? Dora Sullivan? ‘Don”t answer that!!!
Deborah Bender says
Don’t worry Nioaka! Madam X is just another town resident with her head in the poop!
Susie Adkins says
I thought a ‘Madam’ was a worn out prostitue who ran a Brothel…???
Deborah Bender says
YOU ARE A SHEEP!
Paul Plante says
Ah, good old magnificent American democracy in action, right before our eyes!
Don’t you just love it!
A friend says
Paul, I’m just now realizing how truly humoris you can be!
P.s. This is a genuine complement!
Madam X says
Ma-a-a! 🐑 😏🤣
Paul Plante says
Isn’t that just the truth, though, Madam X, how very sheeplike the American people have become since the Revolution.
That, I think is a result of the leveling effects of democracy on the population.
A curious phenomenon I find it to be.
And it is so hard for me to wrap my mind around that it is literally incomprehensible to me how the population in America can be so accepting of corrupt and inept government as what they are deserving of.
Back in 1788, on February 18, to be exact, in the famous “Elihu” Essay, that author stated about people in America at that time, as follows: “and the people of America are now become so enlightened that no fool hereafter (it is hoped) will ever be promoted to any office or high station.”
And how wrong that prediction was to turn out to be.
Now we are surrounded by them, fools, that is, and our government is saturated with them – fools in all kinds of offices, and that includes right here in resurgent Cape Charles, as this article clearly shows, and what a statement about the people of America today that is.
If “Elihu” were to come back today, he or she wouldn’t even recognize the place, especially if he or she were reading this thread, wondering how the people of Cape Charles let this happen to themselves.
Speaking of that, how people let things happen to themselves, just the other day, the 4th of July, actually, Independence from British Tyranny Day, of all days, I ran into a former supervisor of the corrupt town I live in at the local market, and we got to talking about this thread (since the Cape Charles Mirror is global, thanks to Al Gore inventing the internet, it is avidly read up this way) and how complacent people in Cape Charles were in the face of these recent charges and the reasons for them, and he remarked as to how people up here are just the same – unquestioning, like so many Stepford wives.
As I say, a curious phenomenon in either place.
And then we got to talking about a big regional garbage transfer station that has opened up in this town.
It is common knowledge in the town, based on two citizen lawsuits filed in the matter, one against the town and one against the corrupt New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, that when it issued the “permit” for the facility, the permit issued was fraudulent in the sense that it was issued without any underlying documentation required by law to support it, which in NYS is a Class E felony in violation of New York Penal Law § 175.40, Issuing a false certificate, wherein is stated “A person is guilty of issuing a false certificate when, being a public servant authorized by law to make or issue official certificates or other official written instruments, and with intent to defraud, deceive or injure another person, he issues such an instrument, or makes the same with intent that it be issued, knowing that it contains a false statement or false information.”
We know that to be true because an assistant New York State attorney general was forced in state Supreme Court to have to admit that under oath – that the New York State department of Environmental Conservation had been engaging in criminal activities when it issued that fraudulent permit.
Then, there was a second Class E felony committed in violation of New York Penal Law § 175.35, Offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, when the fraudulent DEC permit was filed with the corrupt Town Board, to wit:
A person is guilty of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree when:
1. knowing that a written instrument contains a false statement or false information, and with intent to defraud the state or any political subdivision, public authority or public benefit corporation of the state, he or she offers or presents it to a public office, public servant, public authority or public benefit corporation with the knowledge or belief that it will be filed with, registered or recorded in or otherwise become a part of the records of such public office, public servant, public authority or public benefit corporation.
That we know because it was admitted in a second court proceeding against the corrupt town.
And there was a third Class E felony committed in violation of New York Penal Law § 175.40, Issuing a false certificate, when the corrupt town board issued an approval for the garbage transfer station based on the fraudulent NYSDEC permit, which is what triggered the second lawsuit.
So, three felonies, all of which are public knowledge, and indeed, this former town supervisor admitted to me the other day on the 4th that the prior town board had been paid off, which was never a secret, and as he crowed in my face, because despite being out of office, he still is a politician, afterall, no one ever went to jail.
The only person to suffer any consequences was the poor fool who filed the lawsuits, which is what this former supervisor was crowing about.
And despite the fraudulent approvals, the transfer station was allowed to open.
As the former supervisor said, and again, this was no secret, if you can manage to get ahold of a fraudulent permit up here, and that is easy if you have the money to make the necessary pay-offs, and then, by force and intimidation and pay-offs manage to prevent any further court challenges, you can launder the fraud back through the system and have it emerge “clean,” which is exactly what happened up here, right out in the light of day.
And knowing that, Madam X, it is just HO-HUM, we live in a corrupt society, everybody knows that, so that is just how it goes.
And that is from a former elected official, Madam X.
So we have a lot in common, don’t we.
RICHARD M LEAL says
Once more the Inmates are running the Prison. The Cape Charles Sewage Plant is way over size and already Out dated in Design Wrong Location . The Town population calls for a Modular system, Pre Engineered Modules with Diffused Air Blowers .As the Population increases in size you add a Module to compensate for Capacity This spreads the cost over many years In the Winter Months your Population shrinks so you use less Sludge.
Paul Plante says
And here, I would like to thank Madam X for helping to disprove the thesis of our dear friend and fellow American patriot Chas Cornweller, who likely was just joshing Lisa Hall in another thread in a good natured way when he said good, honest, exchanges of points of view come here to die, which is not at all true, as you and I are proving right now, Madam X, despite our being on opposite sides of this endemic public corruption issue that seems to be plaguing small town governments all over America these days.
Yes, people, two adults can have vastly different opinions about something like endemic public corruption, and still be civil with each other, as is the case here in this thread, where Madam X has chosen to back the action of the town officials of Cape Charles in connection with this apparent boondoggle involving the town’s poop.
And really, when you think about it, who can blame her, for how do you fight back against endemic public corruption in a small town that is itself quite accepting of endemic public corruption as the status quo?
That a town can be quite accepting of endemic public corruption can be seen in a letter from the town attorney for the corrupt town I find myself living in today to the Clerk of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division – Third Judicial Department, Box 7288 – Capital Station, Albany, New York 12224, re: Lascari et al v. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Appeal No. 75470, as follows:
4. Significantly, it must be noted that all five members of the current Town Board are different from those who served on the former Town Board which had filed the underlying Petition herein on or about July 28, 1993.
Further, the fact that all former Town Board members have been replaced by the local electorate is attributable in no small part to the fact that the new members embrace different philosophies and attitudes on many issues, including unnecessary involvement in expensive and time-consuming litigation.
Accordingly, it is hardly surprising that the new Town Board, upon examination of the facts and circumstances of the underlying dispute (which had at one point apparently seen the former Town Board and Planning Board at odds with each other), determined that there was no logic or economic sense in spending additional time and effort pursuing the appeal filed by its predecessor.
What that is referring to was a successful challenge filed by a previous town board to challenge another criminal action of the corrupt New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, another fraudulent permit that was being laundered through the town planning board.
As a result of that lawsuit, which accompanied a citizen lawsuit, the fraudulent DEC permit was exposed for what it was.
Subsequently, the pro-corruption segment in the town, through voter intimidation tactics, was able to vote into power an openly pro-corruption slate of candidates who ruled that the court decision won by the citizens and the prior town board did not apply to them, which is what the town attorney was informing the court clerk about in that letter.
And that pro-corruption town government has been able to maintain power ever since, despite a change in some of the members, through intimidation and retaliation, which tactics have been protected by the Office of the New York State Attorney General, which office is the lawyer for the corrupt New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
So no wonder Madam X finds it at easier to go along to get along.
In a small town with a corrupt town government, there is no place to hide if you are one against the pro-corruption many.