[This article was published in the April 7, 2011 edition of The Rare Reminder.  For a PDF of the print version of this story, please click here.]

Negotiations to allow Middletown a seat on the Mattabassett District Board of Directors are in a precarious position this week.

Last Month’s agreement for new wording to the Mattabassett District charter proposes to give Berlin, Cromwell, Middletown, and New Britain an equal number of seats for the first time in more than 40 yeras.

These changes would reduce the number of New Britain’s representatives on the Board of Directors.

“The method they use to determine the number of representatives on the board is ridiculous,” New Britain Mayor Tim Stewart said Monday, “I don’t agree with the new legislation proposal either.  Representation should be based on usage, not population.”

The latest agreement to allow Middletown representation on the board proposes to restructure the allocation of seats and give each town three representatives, regardless of population.

Mattabassett District Executive Director Brian Armet said New Britain now hopes to change the charter to allow for more total board members, giving that city more representatives.

The current board is made up of six representatives from New Britain, three from Cromwell and three from Berlin.

Mattabassett District’s charter allows for 12 members total on the board.  Seats are assigned to towns according to population, and seat totals are redistributed every 10 years following the release of census information.

New Britain is the only community of the four on the board with 100 percent waste flow to the Mattabassett District facility.

Middletown hopes to have 100 percent flow to the plant as well, phasing out usage of its existing riverfront waste treatment plant, Armet said.

Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano could not be reached for  comment.

The changes to the charter wording regarding the Board of Directors coincides with upgrades to the Mattabassett District’s denitrogeation abilities.

According to Armet, these upgrades could cost $100 million, and would allow the district to sell the treated water to power plants in the area for cooling purposes.

“The real issue for the district is trying to reduce the cost for the upgrade,” Armet said.  “It’s beneficial for us to take Middletown in on the board because it allows the cost to be spread across four towns instead of three.”

Berlin, Cromwell and New Britain agreed to allow Middletown representation on the Board of Directors for $13 million.

The decision came at the end of March, following negotiations lasting 16 years, according to Armet.

State sens. Paul Doyle and Joseph Serra are sponsoring the legislation that would change the district charter.