Altamont floats new sewer charges

Village to hold public hearing over addition of $90 annual fee

— Altamont residents could see their semi-annual sewer bill increase by $45, but they will get to have a say before the proposed fee hits their wallets.

The Village Board of Trustees on Wednesday, Sept. 4, approved holding a public hearing on a proposed change to the village code regarding sewer service changes. The new $90 user fee would be split between each semi-annual bill. The required hearing will be held Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. during a special meeting of the board at Village Hall. The board would be able to vote on the amendment following the hearing if members wish.

The sewer rate would remain unchanged, according to village officials. The April bill is calculated as 1.8 times the April water bill and the October sewer charge equals 1.5 times the October water bill.

“For the past two-and-a-half years we have been reporting on this project at every meeting,” Mayor James Gaughan said. “We have reported about the estimated fee structure that we had calculated as we went along. We forewarned everyone that it is coming.”

Allyson Phillips, legal counsel for the village, said the amended law would change how the sewer service charge is calculated. Phillips said the only thing to change would be the additional $45 semi-annual charge.

The sewer service charge is being implemented to cover the $3.5 million wastewater treatment plant improvement project. The state Department of Environmental Conservation mandated improvements following a 2010 order of consent citing the village for overflow of untreated sewage during weather-related, high water events.

“They have looked at the whole system, taken into account the number of units that are hooked up and evenly spread out the cost of this increased indebtedness, so that everyone is paying a proportional share,” Phillips said.

Gaughan said the idea behind charging every unit a $90 annual fee was to spread the cost equally, because all users would be benefiting from the infrastructure upgrade. He said the committee “spent a great deal of time” analyzing the financial aspects.

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