Esslie-Frenia Law June 2023 Leaderboard

Costs issues still clog sewer pact talks


KINDERHOOK – The Valatie and Kinderhook village boards met for an hour Monday night, July 2 at the Kinderhook Firehouse to discuss a proposed intermunicipal agreement on sewer use that they have been negotiating for several months. At the end of that time the two sides still had not reached a conclusion even as funding deadlines loom.

At this meeting Valatie Trustee Jennifer Furey proposed Kinderhook village residents who connect to the Valatie sewer system pay two cents per gallon as a fixed rate, a cost that would include sewer charges and capital costs for the $3.5-million upgrade to the Valatie sewer plant.

The Kinderhook Village Board wants to make it possible for 35 properties in the business district to connect to the Valatie sewer system. The village has received grants and private donations to pay for the project. But those 35 properties would also have to pay Kinderhook a yearly fee to cover the cost of constructing the new sewer lines and a sewer rate for using the system. The Kinderhook board has also discussed at other meeting having a small yearly fee that all residents in the village would pay to cover the construction costs for the new sewer lines.

Valatie has received a no-interest loan for the $3.5-million upgrade to its plant, which was built in 1979. The Valatie board has selected contractors to work on the project and construction should start this summer.

When the two boards met July 2 it was to hammer out the final language of an agreement that would be perceived as fair by residents of both villages.

Among the issues to be resolved is that the two municipalities have received approval for a shared services grant of $178,000 each. In Trustee Furey’s plan would allow both villages to keep their $178,000 grants and have Kinderhook pay the proposed flat rate of two cents per gallon for five years.

Her calculations indicate Kinderhook is asking to use 12,000 gallons a day, at the most, of the plant that has a 250,000-gallon-a-day capacity. Valatie currently uses 130,000 gallons a day for 940 units. Valatie residents’ sewer rates change every quarter and they pay a $125 yearly fee called a unit charge for debt service and upkeep of the sewer plant. Valatie Mayor Gary Strevell said that right now the sewer rates are about $8 per 1,000 gallons of usage.

Kinderhook board members suggested using the $178,000 grant to cover their costs for the sewer upgrades and establishing a sewer rate for Kinderhook Village residents.

There was some back and forth about how much Kinderhook would use the plant. Trustee Furey estimated that Kinderhook would be using 10% of the plant capacity but paying for only 5% of the upgrade costs.

Doug Clark of Clark engineering, the firm that is designing the sewer lines for Kinderhook, said that the amount Kinderhook would use is closer to 4.8% of the sewer plant capacity. “I don’t think less than 5% is fair, and anything more than 10% is not fair,” Mr. Clark said of finding an amount to cover the construction costs on the Valatie sewer plant.

“You want us to contribute to your current construction program,” said Kinderhook Trustee Bob Puckett, who said Valatie’s plan means Kinderhook residents would pay $20 per 1,000 gallons, twice as much as Valatie residents.

Trustee Puckett also said that Valatie was going to have to make sewer upgrades whether or not Kinderhook connects to the system.

But Mayor Strevell said that Valatie was under no obligation to allow Kinderhook to hook-up to the Valatie sewer system. “I’ll let you build your own $3.5-million plant,” he said at the meeting.

Kinderhook Mayor Carol Weaver, who closed the meeting after an hour, saying that her board would discuss the plan further, said that Kinderhook trustees would like to see the project happen, but she said, “I have to look out for those 35 people.”

The village boards are under some pressure to move forward with the plan because of grant funding deadlines and a sidewalk project designed to link the two villages along Route 9. The sewer pipes to Kinderhook are supposed to be laid beneath the new sidewalk. Work on the sidewalk link project, which also has state and federal funds, was scheduled to start this summer.

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