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. 


Anonymous said...

While kudos should be given to the council members who raised concerns in regards to this matter, their concerns will go nowhere. The powers that be including Picente will surely put the screws to the council members & any objections will be dropped.

As usual the suburbs will get the oil while Utica residents get the shaft.

Politics as usual in Oneida County & Utica be damned.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely nothing will come of this. The previous commenter said, "as usual...Utica will get the shaft." At what point do Utica residents (myself included) accept that we give ourselves the shaft by continuing to elect officials who allow this type of thing to happen? Other municipalities look our for the best interests of their residents. I have no idea what Utica officials are looking out for, except seeing their names in the paper.

Anonymous said...

Only population and value growth should justify expansion of residential serving infrastructure at public expense. To publically finance infrastructure projects serving undeveloped areas in an area of population and job decline is foolhearty. It's kind of like pumping millions of taxpayer dollars into an empty airport while a real one exists less than an hour away.

Anonymous said...

Told ya so! The council approved the easement last night. Vescera & Zecca voted no. The rest of the puppets voted in favor.

Once again Utica politicians have sold the ctizens of this city down the river because they don't have the backbone or the character to stand up to the county powers that be.