Schenectady County

McCarthy ready for Schenectady to take back sewer plant

Schenectady may be running its own sewage treatment plant soon.

Schenectady may be running its own sewage treatment plant soon.

The city stands to save $1 million, after employee salaries and benefits, if it runs the plant itself, acting Mayor Gary McCarthy said. But he’s negotiating with plant operator Veolia for a better contract that could leave the private company in charge.

McCarthy must make a decision this week because it will take three weeks for Veolia to turn everything over to the city.

The plant will continue to run, with most of the same employees, if the city takes it over.

“It’s going to be seamless, no matter what we do,” McCarthy said.

He threatened to take over the plant during contract negotiations with Veolia. At the time, city officials hoped the threat would lead Veolia to offer a better contract for running the plant. Instead, the issue became part of the mayoral campaign, with candidate Roger Hull throwing his support behind Veolia.

Negotiations bogged down, and city officials said Veolia was unlikely to offer a better deal until the election was decided. Now that McCarthy appears to have won the election, he said Veolia has offered a new contract — but it’s not good enough.

“They have made another proposal which still does not get us quite to where we want to be,” he said.

Veolia wants to keep all new revenue expected from improvements made at the plant and also wants the city to pay it more.

The company’s original proposal would cost the city $7.5 million annually. McCarthy said that unless Veolia is willing to offer a better deal, it’s $1 million cheaper for the city to run it.

“Veolia has been a good partner for the city, but it’s an expensive relationship that we can no longer afford as it’s been proposed,” he said. “If we move all those people back in — and that’s 22 people — even if you look at the public-sector benefit package, we’ll still save a lot of money.”

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