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SARATOGA: Board OKs county water project

"Saratoga County taxpayers should be able to voice their opinion on this $67 million project " the largest and most expensive project the county has ever taken on. As it stands right now, the success of this plan is nothing more than a pipe dream," said Keyrouze.

The county plan would draw water from the Hudson River in Moreau and pipe it along the Northway to the southern end of the county. It has an estimated price tag of $67 million and depends on a $4.8 million loan from the county general fund until the plant is in its seventh year of operation. Although the county water authority is overseeing the project, the vote was necessary because of the loan from the board of supervisors. The Saratoga County Water Authority would pay the county back with 4 percent interest.

Servicing the proposed Advanced Micro Devices chip fabrication plant in the Luther Forest Technology Campus, located in Malta and Stillwater, is a driving force behind the county plan. Lawler said new property taxes from the campus would bring in more money countywide.

During an information session prior to the board meeting, Veolia representatives said they would bring water through Clifton Park to the Luther Forest Technology Campus for $1.80 per thousand gallons " versus $2.05 per thousand gallons for the county plan " and build a 9-mile system for $22 million. Veolia did not present any plans for serving the rest of the county.

As it stands, the county system would not service half the towns in the county upon its implementation. Those towns include Day, Galway, Edinburgh and Greenfield, prompting Janik to vote against the project and ask, "What's in it for us?"

The county currently has no signed customer contracts for water, but Lawler said the passing of the financial plan should remedy that situation. Customers can't be expected to sign a deal to buy water without the county committing to the financial plan, he said.

As for detractors who are quick to point out the county is devoting millions to a system without customers: "We don't put a shovel in the ground until we have signed contracts," Lawler said. "I don't know how to be any more clear than that. Everything else is just math.""

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