In Chatham, every drop in bucket will count

CHATHAM–The Village Board held a workshop meeting January 26 to review proposed increases in the water and sewer rates. The board agreed that Village Clerk Barbara Henry should get the word out about the new rates so that the board can hold a public hearing next month prior to adopting the new rates.

Currently there is a minimum use charge of $21 per quarter for village residents using under 1,000 cubic feet of water; there’s a similar charge of $18.12 for sewer. There is a separate rate for properties outside the village, mostly in the parts of the Town of Ghent outside village boundaries that use village water. Residents are charged a small percent increase as they use more water, but for customers whose use exceeds 10,000 cubic feet, the rate starts to decrease, according to the information given out at the workshop meeting. The result is that the biggest users end up paying a lower rate for their water and sewer service.

The current system also has some customers with different payment arrangements. The Price Chopper market is in its own special water and sewer district, and it pays usage fees plus an annual fee. Edgewood Acres, the mobile home park on Route 203, pays a usage rate plus a fee of $40 for each home in the park. Ms. Henry said that the agreement with Edgewood Acres has not been renewed in several years.

The Chatham Central School District pays in the in-village rate, though the high school building is in not in the village; the school district also pays a $4,500 annual fee for service.

Ms. Henry presented the board with the proposed new rates. The new rate structure would eliminate the minimum use charge and bill residents on how much water they use each quarter. The proposed rate would be .045 cents per cubic foot for water and .065 cents per cubic feet for sewer for village residents. The amount would be double, at .09 cents per cubic foot, for properties outside the village. The residents and businesses in Ghent that use village water do not use the village sewer.

Price Chopper’s yearly usage fee amount for water would go up from $4,258 to $10,365 and for sewer the change would go from $8,751 to $14,977.

Another business user in the village, Sonoco-Crellin, does not have special rate, but village Water and Sewer Working Forman Phil Genovese said at the meeting that the board has an agreement with the plastics manufacturer to deposit processed water into the village’s sewer. The yearly agreement, which has not been renewed since 2011, says that the company will test the water leaving the plant and give the test results to the village to review. Mr. Genovese said he had not seen any chemical test results, though he stressed the village does test the water at the village sewage plant for chemicals. The board plans to update and sign the agreement with Sonoco-Crellin and send it back to the company.

Ms. Henry said the board would have to vote on the water and sewer rate changes in February for them to take effect in time for the March water and sewer bills. The board discussed ways to get the information about the proposed changes to residents, letting customers know what the increases are supporting. Ms. Henry pointed out that the people need to know “where the money is going.”

Mr. Genovese talked about the plans to replace old water lines on upper Woodbridge between Hoffman and Church streets this June. The village is also about to start work on a new water storage system at the open reservoir on High Street that has been leaking gallons of water for several years. That project received a grant and a low interest loan.

“We’ve got to maintain the system,” Mayor Tom Curran said of the increases.

Trustee Lenore Packet said that the changes would be minimal. Right now the village deals with 799 active water and sewer accounts, which includes properties in the village and in the Town of Ghent outside village limits. Inside the village alone there are 648 accounts, according to Deputy Village Clerk Deborah Meyers.

Ms. Henry said the proposed rates would be available at the clerk’s office in the Tracy Memorial Village Hall on Main Street. Her office will also send a mailer and put information on the village website, and its Facebook page,

The next board meeting will be February 9 at 7 p.m. There will be a public comment period on the new rates at 6:30 p.m. that night.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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