"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.