Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Down Side of Sewer Credits . . .

A few days ago, the Observer-Dispatch gave a pretty good overview of operation of the "Sewer Credit," a system whereby new sewer connections will be allowed to the County's Sauquoit Creek Pump Station if five times the amount of new sewage is offset by removal of storm water that periodically floods the system.

The way this is playing out is that the Town of New Hartford, which wants to add new connections for developers, is paying to fix leaking sewers owned by the Village of New York Mills. This benefits New York Mills' residents in that they are being relieved of part of the cost of maintaining their sewer system. The Town would seem to benefit because a roadblock to development would be removed. This scheme is endorsed on today's editorial page.

But there IS a downside . . .

First, the taxpayers in the Town (whether directly through their taxes or indirectly through reallocation of Fees In Lieu of Mitigation) are paying to maintain the Village's pipes, something that they are not responsible for. The "development" ultimately authorized is assumed to benefit the Town taxpayer, but can this be said when the "development" needs police and fire protection, has children that need schooling, and roads that need plowing? More development generates more costs. Any additional taxes recouped get used on these costs. If the "development" is underwritten by a "PILOT" or a "TIF" it may actually be years before the Taxpayers see any contribution toward the increased costs. This sounds like a LOSS to the Town.

Second, development that occurs in the Town might be a disincentive to redevelopment in the Village. While Village leaders might not see vacant parcels in their midst, there, no doubt, are underutilized parcels because VILLAGE POPULATION HAS DROPPED. The Village's "win" might not be that golden.

Lastly, and most importantly, the Sewer Credits encourage sprawl, something that costs the entire region money. Village and City residents have to maintain an infrastructure built to support much larger populations than present while Town residents must build new infrastructure. It just doesn't make sense.


Madoree said...

The bigger question to ask the town of New Hartford, "Who are they [buying] these credits for?"

Also, where are the monies coming from to pay for these credits? Could it be from the town's "FEES IN LIEU OF MITIGATION ACCOUNTS - (FILM)?"

Could this be another misuse of town funds?

Greens and Beans said...

Please excuse my ignorance in this matter, but I just have a couple of questions:

The Village of New York Mills is actually located in the Town of New Hartford as well as in the Town of Whitestown. Should the Town of Whitestown also earn sewer credits for the mitigation sewer repair work that the taxpayers of New Hartford are paying for?

What would stop a town that conducts sewer repairs and opts to sell their credits – at a substantial profit – to a developer who wishes to develop property in another town? Are these sewer repair credits confined to the town that the actual repairs are originally performed in, or are these credits county wide?