Cheshire officials still waiting on updated prison contracts

CHESHIRE — The Cheshire Correctional Institution has been under the same contract with the state for more than 20 years, and town officials are looking for a chance to amend it.

A bill requiring the re-opening of prison contracts between the state and the town became law in April. Since then, town officials have been waiting for an opportunity to discuss the matter, primarily because of the use of the waste water treatment plant, said Town Manager Michael Milone.

“Nothing is set yet,” said a spokesman for Interim Prison Commissioner James Dzurnda. “Nothing is set in stone, but it will not happen before the end of the year.”

For the last eight years, the prison has been using more than its alloted share of the wastewater treatment plant, but only pays the price originally negotiated in 1989, according to Milone.

Now, the aging wastewater treatment plant is being rebuilt at a cost of $32.15 million, to be paid for by funds from a referendum passed by voters. The town will have to start paying the money back in fiscal year 2017-18. The town filed a lawsuit against the state in an attempt to reopen the contract last year, when a similar bill was introduced in the legislature, Milone said.

Cheshire was the only town in the state with a correctional facility unable to amend its contract, according to State Rep. Mary Fritz, who represents Cheshire and sponsored the bill.

The town is also in a dispute with the state over its reimbursement under the PILOT (Payment in lieu of taxes) program. Cheshire is losing approximately $2 million due to inadequate Pilot funding, Milone said.

“If we got that, we wouldn’t have to raise the mill rate at all,” he said. (203) 317-2208 Twitter: @EveBritton

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