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Chatham deluged by $2.2M sewer work bill

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CHATHAM – Mayor Paul Boehme announced last week that the village will need to do $2.2 million dollars in work on the sewer system.

The new costs come on top of the $700,000 the village recently spent to upgrade the sewage processing system, reline some of the sewer lines and make repairs where the main sewer line crosses the Kline Kill. At the Village Board’s monthly meeting last Thursday, September 9, the mayor asked the board to approve his plan to take out a 40-year no-interest loan to cover all the work and look into grants to help with the payments.

 

Mr. Boehme said they he was talking to bond counselor at the Rapport Meyers law firm in Rhinebeck to deal with loan. The total cost of the loan would be $3 million, he said, which would cover the new repairs  announced this week and the work already done . At the meeting, the trustees adopted motions to pay off the $700,000 in previous work with loans from the Bank of Greene County, while the bond issues are worked out. The rest of the money will have to be approved by voters in a referendum. The mayor did not say whether the referendum would be placed on the November ballot or would placed before voters at a special election.

The village has been out of compliance with the state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations, mostly as the result of over-use of the sewer system. But state regulators are “happy with what we’re doing,” said the mayor of the work recently completed and now planned for the sewer system.

Trustee and Village Water Commissioner George Grant said that sewer plant is running normally thanks to much less rainfall this summer compared to other years. “This is a normal summer,” said Mr. Grant. He said the last eight years have had extreme rainfalls leading to flooding and runoff infiltrating the sanitary sewer.

Meteorologists  say the region is currently showing a rainfall deficit of six inches compared to average so far this year. David Chinery, the senior horticultural educator for the Rensselaer County Cornell Cooperative Extension calls the current situation a drought in a column appearing in this edition of The Columbia Paper.

The village has been warning residents about sump pumps that drain into the sewer system. They sent a letter with recent water bills saying homeowners will be fined if a sump pump is found to be hooked up to village sewer pipes. “We are going to go after you bad,” said the mayor.

Mr. Boehme said that paying off the loan for the new work will result in a 75% increase in the sewer rate. He and Mr. Grant both said village rates are currently very low, and Trustee David Chapman said that water usage is something residents can control.

Village residents at the meeting suggested that this increase will be difficult for some people to manage. Though the mayor acknowledged it would be a hardship on some people in the village, “It just has to be done,” he said.

Mr. Boehme said that though villagers could end up paying off this work over 40 years, the work will cut maintenance expenses because the whole system will have been upgraded.

Michael Richardson, a village resident, suggested the board conduct question-and-answer forums on the project before the referendum.

The next village meeting is the water and sewer meeting Thursday September 23 at 7:30 p.m. The board will also interview candidates to fill the vacant seat on the Planning Board before that meeting. Three candidates have applied for the position.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com

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