Thursday, January 31, 2013

What's Next at the Airport?

Major tenant at Griffiss moving some of its operations to Florida
MidAir USA aircraft overhaul company, which occupies one of the airport’s enormous hangar buildings, is poised to sign a lease with the City of Melbourne Airport for 75,000 square feet of space for its engineering operations and back shop operations.
The reason given is that MidAir wanted to lease another part of the building that it is already in, but that part of the building is currently occupied by MillionAir.

While MidAir's CEO is quoted in the OD article as saying "I don't know" in response to the question whether his company will renew its leases in 2015 with Oneida County, this story from Orlando Business Journal from last March should give pause for concern: MidairUSA hangar at Melbourne Airport ready to take off
 Melbourne City Council unanimously approved a special permit MidairUSA needed for the proposed height of the hangar it plans to build at Melbourne International Airport, Florida Today reports. . . MidairUSA will use the hangar to overhaul Boeing 747s and plans on hiring more than 450 workers.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Utica Reassures Itself . . .

Before It Drinks the Kool-Aid!

That's the thought that went through my mind at last night's Utica Common Council caucus meeting when the subject of the North Utica Interceptor easement came up.

The hoped for weighing of the issues turned into listening to invited guest Mr. DiMeo's rosy predictions of the benefits of their approval of the project.  No one was asked to present the other side.

Listeners seemed to take solace in the fact that Utican's make up only 49% of the sewer district's rate-base, rather than the 70% earlier reported, without inquiring as to what those numbers really mean. (Utica's population of 62,000 is still more than half of the sewer district's estimate of 110,000 population served).

While it may be comforting for councilpersons to believe that the new pipeline will lead to hundreds of good-paying jobs at "Quad C" and the Marcy NanoCenter, they failed to even entertain the more likely outcome that they have just approved a pipeline that will
(1) Be heavily financed by Utica rate-payers along with rate-increases to finance corresponding expansions of the treatment-plant itself,
(2) Increase the cost of doing business within the City of Utica,
(3) Give the gift of access to public sewers to large areas north of the Mohawk River (I.e., Marcy, Deerfield, Trenton) at no cost to developers there,
(4) Devalue all properties in Utica because access to public-sewers in the suburbs will become common
(5) Lead to the exodus of more Uticans for the suburbs, making it even more difficult for their City to finance even basic municipal services.

The Council has unwittingly driven a nail into Utica's coffin.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Next Shoe to Drop (On Upstate)?

From Crain's last week: LIPA sale could require state bailout.

If you remember LIPA, Long Island Power Authority, was formed at the insistance of Gov. Mario Cuomo to absorb the costs associated with closing down the completed, but never put into production, Shoreham nuclear power plant (a political move to win him votes). In domino effect, we were asked to share our power with the downstate branch of the "family of New York" ... resulting in the Marcy South Power Line AND higher, job-killing, electrical rates being shoved down our throats.

Well now Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to sell LIPA after its perfectly dismal response to hurricane Sandy.

The problem is, who would want to buy a company with a $4billion liability associated with a dismantled, now useless nuke plant?

It's sure starting to look like a state taxpayer bailout of this mess is in the offing. ... Meaning we upstaters get to pay again for unproductive political decisions by the Cuomo Family of New Work.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thinking of the PEOPLE . . .

It is odd that this comes up in the context of Utica approving an easement, but airing the issues regarding the County's N. Utica Interceptor project is welcome, and kudos are due to Mr. Zecca for raising the matter, and Mr. Marino and Ms. Colosimo-Testa for withdrawing their sponsorship pending an airing.  Per the OD: Utica Common Council uneasy over easement.                                             
Oneida County and Mohawk Valley EDGE are trying to expand the sewer capacity in North Utica to prep for possible development with SUNYIT’s Quad C project.  . . .  the city must sign off on an easement granting access because the interceptor crosses city property.  . . . But only residents in the sewer district will pay for the upgrades and city residents make up about 70 percent of those ratepayers. . . .
If it is a project that will benefit the whole county, the whole county should pay for it, said Councilman Jim Zecca, D-at-large.
You make a great point, Mr. Zecca! And in doing so you represent not only the interests of the 70% of ratepayers who are Utica residents, but ALL ratepayers, whether they reside in Clayville, New York Mills, Oriskany or places in between. If the county feels that the Interceptor is a worthy project, then the county should figure out a way of paying for it itself because it is unnecessary to the ratepayers' needs.   . . . 
While the proposed resolution embedded at left would lead Utica Council members to believe that  the Interceptor project is solely related to the Marcy NanoCenter, a recent letter from the County Executive to a County Legislator (embedded at right) makes abundantly clear that:
"It is not solely for the purpose of the Marcy Nano-Center, but for all future development north of the river and would be needed regardless of that project.  It was undertaken to address growth at Marcy that is taking place now. . . ." (emphasis in the original). 
So there it is, in black-and-white. Let the County Executive's words sink in.

You, the rate payer, have invested probably thousands of dollars in the public sewer system to give yourself a service that enhances the value of your home.  Now you are told that you have to pay to expand the system to serve future development.  Applying the law of supply-and-demand, not only will developers be able to offer public sewers at your expense, the value of your property will go down because properties with access to public sewers will become more common.  While this result falls most heavily on Utica (simply because its residents make up the bulk of ratepayers) it affects all properties already on the system regardless of location.

The end result of the County's proposals, of course, will be more "sprawl" -- requiring more infrastructure expansions and more extensions of services.  This is something that the Oneida County folks have yet to comprehend as contributing to our region's job-killing levels of taxation and fees -- unlike Onondaga County which has long recognized (but not solved) the problem of sprawl. Oneida County could put the brakes on sprawl by simply not expanding its system and forbidding the connection of new developments (directly or indirectly via town pipes) to its system that would cause its system to violate pollution control laws.  The County has that authority to comply with Clean Water Act requirements -- and its failure to use that authority in the past led to the Consent Order problems we pay for now. Developers, meanwhile, will have to seek alternatives for waste water disposal (and there are alternatives, particularly where large volumes of industrial waste water are involved).

It will be interesting to see how the Utica Common Council grapples with this issue. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Rest of the Story on NH Library . . .

In the OD the headline is: Library board recommends DeRosa to fill opening
But, per New Hartford Online, the headline should have read: New Hartford Town Board Is Accepting Applications. NH Online:
Reality is that the library board can "recommend" anyone they want to fill an expired term, but according to NYS Education Law and the library's own bylaws, the town board has complete control over who is appointed to the library board when a term has expired. No "recommendation" from the library board is required.
And the Town Board is soliciting applications from residents interested in serving.  Get the details on NH Online

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hiding the Provolone . . .

This should be a shocking surprise --  except for the fact that the New Hartford Public Library (NHPL) is involved: OD: New Hartford Library surplus surprises some.

So let me get this straight ...  The NHPL, which was crying the blues a few months ago over not having enough money and tried to recharter itself to tap the taxpayers even more, was somehow able to amass a $100,000.00 fund that just now came to light?

$100,000 is about 20% of the library's annual budget, no?

While the Town Supervisor (he's a CPA, don't you know) seems to defend this as necessary to keep an organization running, if this was 20% of his town budget, wouldn't that attract the interest of NYS authorities -- i.e., if you can have a rainy day fund that large, you are taxing your residents too much.

Seems like the NHPL Board of Trustees is playing "hide the provolone" with the taxpayers!

New Hartford Online has all the sordid details! $100,000 hiding in the "books" at the New Hartford Public Library?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Killing Us Softly With Sewers . . .

Utica OD: Sewer costs overflowing: Projects will be costly to ratepayers
A convergence of several sewer projects is hitting local residents hard in the pocketbook. And it only will get worse as the years go by — you might be paying at least $80 more a year by 2016. . . . Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said the county doesn’t have a choice but to make the repairs and upgrades.
Pure BS plain and simple. One of the "repairs and upgrades" is:
 . . . construction of an improved pipeline, or interceptor, for the planned nanotechnology sites in Marcy.
The choice here is "don't do it!" Simple enough. 
  1. No one is holding a gun to Mr. Picente's head to extend sewers to the NanoCenter site, it's an option.
  2. When a new development is proposed -- any development -- the county has an OBLIGATION TO REFUSE tie-ins to its system that the system is incapable of handling. (That, BTW, is how the County got into its Consent Order mess to begin with. It was too easy with developers and did not know how to say "no" to new connections that caused increased pollution to spill into the River.) Upon refusal, developers, then, have to implement alternative means of waste disposal as part of their obligation to reduce the environmental impacts of their projects under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
  3. Going into hock for a big industrial user leaves Sewer District Rate-Payers vulnerable to rate-shocks should the industrial user pack up and leave -- which is exactly what happened when Beech Nut left Canajoharie, forcing rates there to skyrocket.
  4. It is gambling with Rate-Payers money to build an expansion that might not be used because  (a) a chip fab does not come or (b) the chip fab that comes decides that it makes more sense to treat its industrial waste water itself and discharge same directly rather than use the county facilities.
Why would anyone want to come into a community where sewer rates are unnecessarily high?  

The immediate question now is, why would the County Legislature approve of such nonsense?  
  • Perhaps it is because most have no "skin in the game"  since it is the Rate-Payers who are confined to the Greater Utica area that are being placed on the hook to pay for this.
  • Perhaps it is because they are desperate to hold on to their pay and benefits as legislators that they will do what ever the political elite tell them to. . . or
  • Perhaps it is because they simply have no clue what they are doing.
What ever the reason, they are drowning us in infrastructure and killing us with astronomical costs.  It needs to stop if this region ever hopes to make a come back.

An in-depth discussion of this issue can be found on the New Hartford Online posting Who is representing the sewer ratepayers??? It is worth reading and and watching the video.