Saturday, July 07, 2007

More O. C. Sewage: Using FOIL as a Shield . . .

Another day, another story promising that an agreement between Oneida County and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to resolve the sewage overflow problem is near.
"The county Board of Legislators will likely vote Wednesday on accepting a revised state-issued order to fix the $66 million issue.

But how can the County commit to a solution before determining how to pay for it? An earlier story noted that the problem is too big for the affected Towns.
"But the project's cost is well beyond the capability of the towns and villages served by the pumping station, town officials say. Footing the bill would almost surely raise local property taxes, these leaders say."
If the Towns, where the problem has been created, cannot pay for this, who will?
""I know it's short notice, but that's the way it worked," Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said Friday. "We need to have an order that works this time."
It sounds as though Mr. Picente and crew have already figured out who will pay, and are going to try to ram it through the legislature on Wednesday.

We can only speculate on who will pay the bill because . . .
"Details aren't being released until the order is signed."
Some frank speculation:

1) It is doubtful that the County will take this on as a County-wide charge. There are too many parts of the County totally unaffected by the problem who would never go along with picking up the cost -- in spite of the County's coffers being filled with new taxes from new developments in the areas where the problem has been created, and in spite of the fact that the County was negligent in permitting the problem with its facility to develop. The County would have to admit to its negligence and admit to having been benefited by it. Have we ever seen that happen?

2) It is doubtful that the affected/developing Towns have agreed to partner with the County to pay for this because Whitestown supervisor,
"Matthew Shannon, a Democrat, said . . . Picente, a Republican, has been keeping town officials in the dark."
And from the earlier article, it seems that town officials don't see this as their problem --
in spite of the towns' coffers being filled with new taxes from new developments in the areas where the problem has been created, and in spite of their own negligence in permitting the new developments without ensuring that the County's system could handle them. The towns would have to admit to their negligence and admit to having been benefited by it. Have we ever seen that happen?

3) That leaves the ratepayers, those paying Part-County sewer charges to foot the bill. The question there is whether ALL rate payers will pay, or just those in the affected towns. If All ratepayers pay, Oneida County style "regionalization" will triumph again, encouraging "growth" (more accurately "sprawl") in the suburbs at the cost of the city (both in money and in lost economic vitality). We have seen that happen! If only ratepayers in the towns pay, it would be more fair because they have had offsetting from increases to town tax bases. Yet, it would be similar to a utility passing on the cost of malfeasance to its ratepayers rather than to the shareholders -- which seems unfair. What ever the answer is, we are going to pay for it, whether as taxpayers or ratepayers.

No public Input:

The bigger problem is that we are being given no opportunity to comment to our legislators on the solution before it is agreed upon, because we are not going to be told of the details until after the fact.

While the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) does not require the agreement to be released until after it has been approved, FOIL does not require that it be kept from the public before approval. We have two entities, DEC and the County, who have been paid by us to act in our best interests. We already know that the County has not done so by allowing the sewer situation to develop. We won't know if the solution will be in our best interests until it is too late to do something about it. Unlike agreements with private individuals, contractors, or employee unions, there is no rational basis to keep the details from the public before being voted upon.

FOIL should not be used as a shield. The County should disclose the details of the proposed Consent Order BEFORE it is voted upon.


Anonymous said...

Picente knows that ONEIDA COUNTY has a surplus of cash in excess of $35 million dollars. Who is kidding whom?

We also have the Picente - Reed connection between the County and Town of New Hartford. What is really going on between these two individuals?

The County gave the Town of New Hartford $150,000 for no apparent reason and too, the Town of New Hartford still has NOT released their financial records for the period ended December 31, 2006. Why? What is being held back from the public? Mismanagement, budget irregularities? Does it rise to criminal activity?

It too, is disheartening when Matt Shannon does not know what is going on. I will commend Whiteboro and Marcy for keeping their residents involved via their respective internet web sites. These elected officials know how important it is to keep the public informed. Perhaps, Earle Reed and Anthony Picente should take a "page" from their fellow elected officials.

County and Town residents need to know of the DEC ORDER before it is signed and/or ratified by the legislature. Oneida County and the Town of New Hartford are the TWO BIGGEST CULPRITS OF THIS MESS!

Anonymous said...

You have to admit that is is ironic that we just celebrated 4Th of July and we are talking about, foils, consent orders without debate, taxes and lack of representation. Only when the people decide enough is enough will you have open government.
This is what happens when your County Exec is appointed and not elected. Absolute power, hidden agenda's and cronies will always be first on the minds of the "appointed". Maybe the Towns of Marcy and Whitestown will have a revolutionary fever and fight this when they get the short end of the stick. Don't tread on me Mr Picente

Anonymous said...

Just when we thought we have read it all...the Observer Dispatch prints another article about Mr. Steve DiMeo and EDGE. More b/s from DiMeo and too, the local newspaper who finds these types of articles worthy of printing but refuses to let the public know about the shenanigans of our elected officials. Sad, Sad, Sad days for a County that should expose these worthless and spineless politicians for for what and whom they represent.

I find an irony in all of this. That is, the people, regardless of party affiliation...elect their candidate, however, these same candidates only serve "special" interests and "big" business. Where is the fairness and equity in terms of representation?

Oneida County citizens we now have a mandate, a wake-up call, if you will. VOTE THE B*ST*RDS OUT OF OFFICE THIS FALL. Now this would be a "punishment" fitting their crime.

p.s In the O.D.'s small print, they allude, once again, to "shovel ready" sites. Sounds to me like they have to take care of their fecal problem - first! And there is plenty of sh*t in the pipelines.