KINDERHOOK–The Village Board held a special meeting Monday night to review the latest draft of an agreement with Valatie for use of the Valatie sewer plant by 35 Kinderhook village properties.
The two boards have been meeting separately and together for several months work out an agreement that would benefit businesses and homes in the business district at the center of Kinderhook by providing them with a connection to Valatie’s sanitary sewer system.
The newest draft of the intermunicipal pact would have the owners of those 35 properties pay the same sewer rate as Valatie residents. They would also have to pay the unit fee that Valatie users pay for the maintenance on the plant and to debt service for sewer plant construction projects.
Valatie Village Clerk Jason Nastke and Board Member Amy Freinberg-Trufas came to the July 23 meeting with Kinderhook Mayor Carol Weaver and Trustees Brain Murphy and Rich Phillips. Mr. Phillips had several questions about the agreement and changes he wanted to see made. “I’m trying to make this contract as tight as it can be,” he told the board members present.
Kinderhook Village lawyer Robert Fitzsimmons was also at the meeting. Mr. Phillips wanted wording in the contract that Kinderhook can review Valatie’s accounts and budgets. He also worried about surplus funds from the sewer budget being used for Valatie’s general fund, and he wanted to make sure that the contact was binding for 40 years, as proposed in the agreement. “Jason said anybody was welcome to go in and look at the books,” Mayor Weaver told Mr. Phillips. She also said that it was a state law that money from the sewer budget could not be transferred into the general budget. Any surplus in the sewer budget, Trustee Freinberg-Trufas said, is used for sewer projects.
Mr. Fitzsimmons said making changes to the agreement once both boards sign it would be difficult. Trustee Phillips worried that a new Valatie board might want to change the agreement so that Kinderhook residents would pay more for the sewer, like other residents outside the village would have to. “They can always ask and you can say ‘no, we have a contract,’” Mr. Fitzsimmons said.
Earlier in the meeting, as Mr. Phillips reviewed changes he wanted in the contract, Trustee Murphy said, “We will get to a point in this linear process that we will not move forward with this because it will be too late.” The boards have to approve the agreement before the Village of Kinderhook can hold a referendum to see whether villagers support moving forwarding with borrowing some of the funds for the $838,000 project.
The village has received grants and private donations for the project. The board would borrow $340,000. Mayor Weaver said that the latest possible date for the referendum is August 15 if the project is to stay on track with a sidewalk link project between the two villages paid for with federal and state funds. The sewer lines to connect the business district of Kinderhook to the Valatie sewer plant would run under the new sidewalk. Jim Dunham, who is managing the sidewalk link project for Kinderhook, said the plans for that project now includes the sewer but they can be changed if the village decides not to go forward with the sewer project. He said he’s been approached by Samascott’s and other business on Route 9 to hook-up to the sewer as well.
The intermunicipal agreement does not have detailed costs for new hook-ups in the village, since they would be subject to Valatie’s out-of-village sewer rates. Mr. Dunham also mentioned the issue with the unit charge. He believes Kinderhook should not be responsible for any of the $3.5-million sewer plant upgrades now under construction. Valatie received a no-interest loan to cover the cost of the upgrades. Mr. Nastke said the unit charge fee, which is now about $18 a quarter per property, covers plant maintenance, the two employees, electricity to the plant and sludge hauling. “We can’t charge you less than Valatie [residents],” said Ms. Frienberg-Trufas of the unit charge.
She went on to say, “The people of Kinderhook are going to be treated just like people in Valatie.” The boards will review the new agreement and meet again together on Monday, July 30 at 7 p.m. in the Kinderhook Village Hall on Route 9.
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