Problems with leaking reservoir dogs Chatham officials

CHATHAM–The Village Board held a workshop meeting last week to discuss water, mostly with the village engineer, Pat Prendergast. The main topic involved the plan to replace the open village reservoir on High Street with a closed structure.

At the April 28 meeting the board also granted partial sewer charge relief to the Chatham Brewing, because much of the water the brewery uses ends up as beer, which does not go into the sewer system.

Plus, the board will hold another workshop May 26 at 7 p.m. to discuss raising water and sewer bills. They also agreed to issue final notices to properties that are long overdue on their water and sewer bills.

Turning to another subject, the board adopted the 2016-17 village budget of $1.9 million dollars. The board said the tax levy increase was within the limit set by the state, which was less than 1%.

Trustee Lenore Packet pointed out that the budget could only increase by $968 from last year because of the state property tax cap, which can be lower the nominal “2% cap” due to a low inflation rate and the way the state calculates the cap.

Mayor Tom Curran thanked the village departments for staying within their budgets. “I’m very proud of everybody working as a team to keep things running,” he said of the tight budgets. Clerk/Treasurer Barbara Henry said there had been a decrease in workers’ compensation costs and a decrease in police personnel. She also said that some revenues had gone up. The board passed the budget unanimously. Village budget years begin June 1.

As for a new water tower at the reservoir, Mr. Prendergast said that it was not standard procedure for a municipality to use an open reservoir like the one village has. Water is pumped from the village wells to the reservoir and held there before it flows to village water users. Mr. Prendergast noted how expensive it is for the village to treat the water twice–once as it goes into the reservoir and again as it flows out. He also said that thousands of gallons of water leak from the reservoir daily.

“It’s a bit of an expense,” he said of maintenance cost for the reservoir. Mr. Prendergast also talked about state and federal loans and grants available for the project.

He said that the village recently invested in repairing and painting the water tower, which he said was a good investment. “That thing looks real good… It will last a good long time,” he said of the water tower.

Mr. Prendergast advised the board that the village need to have a survey of the land around the reservoir to see how much property the village owns at the site.

In other water issues, the Chatham Brewing, which brews beer in a building near the village hall, asked the board for sewer payment relief from the water they use in their brewing process. The water used, the mayor pointed out, goes out the door in bottles, not into the village sewer. The brewers know how much water they use in the process so they could show the village each quarter what water is used for beer and what is not used for that and did end up in the sewer system. The board forgave the Chatham Brewing $136 for the last quarter.

The board also agreed to seek payment of water/sewer bills that are outstanding for more than two quarters. In the village water district, those charges can be re-levied on the property taxes of late-paying water/sewer users.

Ms. Henry pointed that “we have a number of properties in Ghent that are very far behind” on their water bills. Some properties in the Town of Ghent receive village water but they are outside the village water district. And because the owners of those Ghent properties are outside the water district, Ms. Henry said the board could not include the unpaid water bills on the residents’ tax bills.

Mayor Curran said there had been a lot of issues with the water lines that go to Ghent.

Mr. Prendergast said the village might want to work on one portion of the line to Ghent at a time to keep expenses down.

Also at the meeting, the board hired Kent Pratt as a part-time, temporary building inspector through July 31, at a rate of $30 per hour for an average of up to 8 hours per week while Building Inspector Walt Simonsmeier is out on a leave of absence.

The next regular village meeting will be Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m. in the Tracy Memorial/Village Hall. The board will discuss an increase in water rates at their special meeting on May 26, also at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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