Valatie doesn’t like smell of sewer deal changes

VALATIE–The Village Board has awarded contracts to three different companies for the $2.8-million sewer plant upgrade project.

At a special meeting on May 31 the board also reviewed the municipal agreement with the Village of Kinderhook to connect to Valatie’s sewer system. Mayor Gary Strevell presented the board with two different agreements. One dated May 21 with changes in it that Mr. Strevell said he had not agreed to and a new one on May 29 with the changes removed.

Mr. Strevell said the Kinderhook board was asking in the May 21 agreement to use the sewer and not pay any of the fees connected to the upkeep of the plant. “I don’t believe that is a fair position for the residents of Valatie,” he said of the agreement.

Mr. Strevell expressed frustration with the changes and the back and forth over the agreement with the board in a village that lies less than a mile from Valatie sewer plant off Route 9. For several years the two villages have been discussing the hook-up possibility, and the mayor said he has a draft agreement that the neighboring municipalities discussed in 2007.

The plan proposed by the Village of Kinderhook board is for 35 properties in the village Business District to connect to the system that serves Valatie, paying the fees associated with using the sewer, a hook-up fee and a fee to cover the cost of the construction of the sewer lines. Also, all residents in the Village of Kinderhook would pay a small yearly fee for the construction over the life of the loan the board would have to take out to finance the sewer line.

Construction costs that business owners and residents in Kinderhook would pay if the project goes forward would only be for laying the sewer lines and connecting to the Valatie system. The Kinderhook board predicts that project will cost about $700,000.

If the Kinderhook village Business District does hook-up to the upgraded Valatie sewer system, Kinderhook village would bill those users, monitoring sewage flow at a village pump station. Kinderhook officials have asked to use Valatie Water and Sewer Department workers if there is a problem on the lines. Mr. Strevell said any work done outside of Valatie by village employees would be reimbursed at an hourly rate by Kinderhook.

The Village of Kinderhook as received a major state grant for the work, as well as private donations, and the villages share a grant, which was originally awarded in 2008, according to Mayor Strevell.

“It won’t be here forever,” he said of the grant money and the opportunity for Kinderhook to connect to Valatie’s system. Kinderhook still needs to win voter approval of the connection plan before the village can borrow to pay for the project.

As for the upgrades to the sewage treatment plant, the Valatie Village Board approved all the lowest bidders, though the project is more expensive than initially planned. The village received a no-interest Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) loan, which covers up to $3.2 million. The project as it stands now should cost about $2.8 million.

Mr. Strevell has said at past meetings that the upgrade project would have little impact on Valatie sewer rates since residents already pay a maintenance fee on their bills for using the sewer systems, which would cover repayment of the loan principal.

But the mayor said the village should not delay beginning construction on the upgrades any longer because the state Department of Environmental Conservation might make more changes to the rules governing upgrades. The DEC has already asked the village to make changes that have increased the costs significantly. “If we don’t get a stake in the ground we’re never going to catch this,” said Mayor Strevell.

Construction should start in the next few months, said Brock Juusola of Delaware Engineering, the lead engineer on the project.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

 

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