Chatham village faces further water, sewer hikes

CHATHAM–The Chatham Village Board passed a $2.1-million 2018-19 budget Thursday, April 26 at a noon meeting. Trustee Jay Rippel was the only board member to vote against approving the new budget. All four trustees and Mayor Tom Curran attended the meeting with the Village Treasurer Barbara Henry and Clerk Debra Meyers. One member of the public also came out.

The budget’s general fund–which includes the police and fire departments and street maintenance–is about $1.2 million. There are separate budgets for water, at $448,393.55, and sewer, at $483,344.15. This budget is a slight increase from the current spending plan, so the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property is going up about 3 cents. The tax rate in the 2018-19 budget for village residents in the Town of Chatham is $6.44 per $1,000; for village residents in the Town of Ghent it’s $5.48, according to the budget the board presented.

Village budgets run from June 1 to May 31.

Trustee Rippel said that he liked the budget but he disagreed with the process. “We have to try to get more public involvement,” he said.

The board held a public hearing on the budget earlier in the month and hosted two public budget workshops with department heads.

“We have to allow people to voice their concerns,” Mr. Rippel said.

But Trustee Lenore Packet said that people had been given a chance to speak and express their opinions.

Mr. Rippel also had an issue with one department head who did not show up at the workshop, saying the board was “just rubber stamping” that budget. He did not say which department that was, but Trustee Mike Wollowitz said, “Jay’s concern about the police budget is legitimate.”

Mr. Wollowitz said the board could still approve the budget but the board has “the option of changing policy whatever that might be.”

Both Mr. Wollowitz and Mr. Rippel were concerned about the water and sewer budgets. There is one more billing quarter for village water and sewer in the 2017-18 budget. Village Treasure Barbara Henry said that in a worst case scenario the deficit in the sewer will be about $559,000 and $125,000 in water. Ms. Henry said that the fund balance in this budget will cover the deficit as they move into the 2018-19 budget.

Mr. Wollowitz, who is the village water & sewer commissioner, said of the deficits, “We have to get that under control.”

He said the deficit in the water and sewer budget lines was caused mostly by “salaries and some equipment.”

Ms. Henry said that the costs to run those departments had gone up and the rates have not. The village is paying off debt on major upgrades to the sewer plant and repairs at the water tower, but Ms. Henry stressed that those factors were not the reason for the deficit.

The Village Board raised water and sewer rates in March 2017. The board plans to discuss raising the rates again at a meeting Thursday, May 10 at 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend and comment. Ms. Henry said she could have proposed new rates ready for that meeting.

The board had planned to replace the open reservoir with a water storage tank this year, but bids came in higher than expected and the mayor said the engineers for that project are going back to the plans to see if they can cut the project expenses.
Also at the meeting:
•The village is hosting a heavy trash pick-up for residents in May. For illage residents in the Town of Ghent, pick-up will be Monday, May 21 and for village residents in the Town of Chatham pick-up will be Wednesday, May 23. Metal pick up will be Thursday, May 24 for all village residents. The clerk reminded the board that residents need to sign up before 4 p.m. Thursday, May 10 to have their trash picked up. They can call the office at 518 392-5821, extension 3.

The next regular board meeting will be May 10 at 7 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial Village Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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