Saratoga County

Chip plant’s sewer fees to stabilize Saratoga County rates

County sewer rates won’t rise next year, thanks in large part to new revenue the sewer district will

County sewer rates won’t rise next year, thanks in large part to new revenue the sewer district will get from the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant in Malta.

The chipmaker is expected to generate about $1.3 million for the sewer district in 2012, based on a projected discharge of about 1.6 million gallons of wastewater per day.

The company this year began using large volumes of water as it began testing manufacturing systems at its Fab 8, in anticipation of starting computer chip production late next year.

“By the end of 2012 we expect them to be discharging 3 million gallons per day, which is a great help in keeping the rate stable,” said sewer commission Chairman William J. Davis.

The annual sewer rate currently averages $180 per connection unit — generally a one single-family residence. Large commercial users like GlobalFoundries pay based on actual use. The district has about 65,000 customers.

Sewer rates have been stable for most of the last decade, but the average rate rose county wide by $10 last year, to help pay for a $52 million expansion at the treatment plant in Halfmoon.

Actual rates paid by customers vary by community, based on local collection costs, from $157 per connection in Mechanicville to $263 around Saratoga Lake. All of those rates would stay unchanged under the rate proposal.

The district’s 2012 budget hasn’t yet been released, but officials said a major capital improvement project is being planned.

The district will be starting a construction project to increase sewer capacity around Saratoga Lake, and expects to advertise for construction bids in January or February.

Davis declined to estimate the cost of the project, though he acknowledged it will be millions of dollars. It will be put to bid together with a project to extend a sewers down routes 4 and 32 immediately south of the treatment plant.

Davis said most of the money for those projects will be borrowed. “Even with this project around the lake, I don’t think we’ll have to raise rates,” he said.

The proposed rates, with the new revenue from GlobalFoundries, will generate about $12.6 million, compared with $11.4 million generated by the same rates this year.

New residential and commercial growth other than GlobalFoundries is bringing in an additional $90,000, and officials expect the growth to continue. Just Wednesday, sewer district commissioners agreed to accept wastewater from a 99-lot subdivision in Ballston and a major commercial-residential complex in Malta.

“I can’t see where the growth is going to stop in this county. Our biggest problem is keeping up with the growth,” Davis said.

Sewer district commissioners, meeting Wednesday in Halfmoon, voted to schedule a public hearing on the rates for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the county boardrooms in Ballston Spa.

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