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.
"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.