The end of Beech-Nut’s baby food production in Canajoharie is expected to double the rate users pay for water and more than triple the rate for wastewater, officials say.
The village Board of Trustees is developing its budget for the fiscal year that starts June 1, and officials are calculating the financial impact expected with the loss of Beech-Nut’s payments.
Mayor Leigh Fuller said the water and sewer plants have a combined debt of more than $3.1 million, which require debt service of about $300,000 on top of another $400,000 in operating costs.
“It now costs three-quarters of a million dollars to run the water and waste plant and once you lose your largest contributor, which is Beech-Nut, you’re in deep trouble,” Fuller said.
The village collects roughly $1.4 million in sewer and water fees each year from the Beech-Nut facility, Fuller said, and the water and sewer plant officials were informed the company’s massive usage is likely to end in September.
Beech-Nut spokesman Earl Wells on Thursday said he doesn’t have a fixed date but full production is expected to be under way at the new facility in Montgomery County’s Florida Business Park by September.
Canajoharie officials had hoped another company might start some form of production at the plant to buffer the financial blow. But despite efforts to market the plant for more than a year, there have been no solid offers.
Beech-Nut hired Corporate Properties of New York City, a company that specializes in complicated redevelopment projects, in 2008.
Corporate Properties senior managing director Spiros Antoniadis said there’s been interest from developers but they need capital and loans are tough to get right now.
A village homeowner who uses 13,000 gallons of water every six months currently pays about $137 for the six-month period for the two fees combined, Fuller said.
If the water fee doubles and the sewer fee increases as anticipated, a village homeowner could see a hypothetical bill jump from about $274 annually to as much as $700 for a year.
“It’s going to be an exorbitant cost,” Fuller said.
Fuller said there are about 850 households in the village in addition to other businesses such as candy maker Richardson Brands, which stands to face a similar increase in its sewer and water rate.
“We’re afraid we’re going to be left high and dry,” Fuller said.
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