Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pity the Village Residents . . . and Maybe Utica, Too.

Residents of the Oneida County Sewer District woke up this morning to Sticker Shock on the cost of compliance with the DEC Consent Order.

While the Observer-Dispatch notes that the Town of New Hartford tops the list in terms of absolute costs, less obvious is the potentially ruinous impact to the residents of Villages when their smaller populations are taken into consideration. This becomes apparent when per capita costs are calculated. The Village-Town split is quite striking, even in the New Hartfords where the per capita cost in the Town is less than one-half of the cost in the Village.

The per capita calculations for Village Residents, however, could turn out to be conservative when you consider that Village Residents are also Town Residents and could be made to pick up the per capita costs of their Towns as well -- like they already do for things like highway maintenance and storm water management. Conceivably, the per capita cost in the Village of New Hartford could wind up being $4255 (the sum of the per capita Village and Town costs)!

Let's add insult to injury by considering how these costs were incurred: the violations of the law which led to a Consent Order. The law was violated when separated sanitary waste lines -- PRIMARILY IN THE TOWNS -- were connected to a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) which made the CSO illegal. The CSO was previously permitted to exist to accomodate the Villages' combined sewer systems. Now that it is illegal, it is the Villages who are forced to pay. But who benefitted from the illegal sewer connections? Mainly the Towns which greatly expanded their tax bases.

The OC Sewer District Advisory Committee will be making recommendations in a few days on how to pay for this mess, so it will be interesting to see how much cost shifting there will be from the "guilty" to "innocent" parties. If the past is any indication, Uticans could get stuck with paying for some of this.


Arkangel said...


RE: “The increase in tax base by the municipalities which violated the law kept property taxes low.”

The increase to the town’s tax base did not necessarily keep the town’s property taxes low. This was done using the Town’s Fund Balance accounts. Had it not been for the town’s fund balance in excess of $3,000,000; New Hartford Town Residents (inclusive of New York Mills – part town) would have seen significant increases to their town taxes.

Too, we must look at when the Earle Reed administration used his secret meetings to promote promises made –albeit illegal. However, inherent within these secret meetings were undoubtedly deals made to entertain Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT’s) for Earle’s “family and friends.”

Commercialization within the Town of New Hartford has hindered prosperity within the Town due to the exorbitant dollars required to pay for the accompanying infrastructure.

In other words, increased commercialization may have led to an increased tax base, however, it did not allow for an influx or increase to the real property tax revenue stream.

In fact, quite the opposite occurred within the Town of New Hartford as we have seen with the New Hartford Business Park vis-à-vis Lawrence Adler – entrepreneur extra-ordinaire? I was being facetious on this point.

The increase of commercialization within the Town of New Hartford has adversely affected the standard of living not helped it. You are most correct when stating that New Hartford was principally to blame because of the huge amounts of waste and the methodology employed by his administration and too, Roger Cleveland another Republican member of the “family and friends” plan. Only in New Hartford were self-appointed Lords using their self-appointed “powers” to usurp from each and every town resident their hard-earned dollars to spend on frivolous venues which has impacted the 19,000 residents.

Briefly explained…for each $1 spent on commercialization or on behalf of commercialization; town residents have had to “cough-up” (at least) $6.

Now, how can anyone tell me that paying more and getting less is good for town residents? Appears to be we have here an example of town residents hog-tied, if you know what I mean?

Commercialization within the New Hartford Town corridors, if carried out correctly would have contributed to a huge decrease in town resident real property taxes.

In fact, conceivably this increased commercialization should have been the basis for economic prosperity to town residents in that there should have been zero town tax liability to town residents, similar to what the State of Alaska gives back to each and every one of their residents.
New Hartford Town residents got the proverbial “shaft” from Earle Reed.

It is not too late to demand huge cuts in town government and if necessary, a class-action lawsuit against Earle Reed and town officials who allowed this unnecessary and illegal spending to take place.

I for one would follow the words of Janice Reilly (Utica O.D. – Letters to Editor dated 10 October 2009 – on line); “…All leaders in the town of New Hartford should be held personally and financially responsible for the mess they put us in.”

Anonymous said...

No wonder Reed is getting out. He rides off into the sunset while town residents are left holding the bag for his administations's corruption & incompetence. And his cronies reap the benefits for being a part of the good 'ol boys club. I can't wait until the results of the state's audit are in. The N.H.P.D. should stock up on handcuffs. And there's no doubt in my mind that local politicians will find a way to make Uticans pay for N.H. misdeeds as far as the sewer fiasco is concerned. Soon the "we're all in this together" spin will begin.

Strikeslip said...

I agree that the "we're all in this together" spin will probably resume again, just like it always has when it comes to unbearable EXPENSES but not revenues or control.

The sewer district is controlled by legislators from the Utica suburbs teaming up with legislators from outside the sewer district all together -- "representation without taxation" diluting the control of those who pay the bills and get the services.

"We're all in this together" is a lie -- unless the speaker is really advocates merger of Utica and its suburbs -- where the people getting the benefits (including increases in tax base) will be the ones both paying the bills and the ones in control.

The people have to demand this.

Anonymous said...

PILOT's, payments in lieu of taxes, were never intended for retail commercial developments.The primary reason is that retail jobs are secondary in nature. The use of the tax break gimmic was expanded by the local IDA for both political and presuure from EDGE.

Anonymous said...

Our sewer fees are already slated to increase. That means all users including Utica residents who are already being ripped off by the part county sewer district in that we have to pay not only county sewer fees, but City of Utica fees as well. In Picente's new county budget, sewer fees will increase $.39 cents for every 1,000 gallons of water used. This according to Sunday's OD. However there was no mention of what this increase will be used for. Is the increase going to be dedicated to sewer repairs? Probably not.