Residents of Edinburg or Galway may never get hooked up to the county sewer system, but people in those rural towns will soon be living in the Saratoga County Sewer District.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved expanding the district from the area it now serves to include almost the entire county. The district has been limited to the southern part of the county, where residential and commercial growth has been greatest.
The expansion could help justify plans for a second sewage treatment plant to be built in the northern part of the county, at the county landfill site in the town of Northumberland.
“When putting the new plant in up north, it wasn’t in the district, and now it will be,” said county Sewer Commission Chairman William J. Davis.
Officials have previously said the new plant would handle sewage from Saratoga Springs and Wilton, freeing capacity in the main treatment plant in Halfmoon. But a new plant would also have the ability to handle additional development in communities like Northumberland and Moreau.
Davis, however, said the real beneficiaries will include residents who pay companies to pump out their septic tanks. The septic haulers generally pump the collected waste into the county system.
“When they bring in waste from outside the district, they have to pay 11⁄2 times the inside rate,” Davis said. “Now they won’t have to pay that.”
Charges to septic haulers account for about $200,000 annually within the district’s $14.1 million budget.
The boundary change will take effect in early November, unless enough residents petition for a public referendum.
The expanded district will include all of Charlton, Clifton Park, Corinth, Day, Edinburg, Galway, Greenfield, Moreau, Northumberland, Saratoga and Stillwater, along with the villages of Galway, Schuylerville, Stillwater and Victory.
With the notable exception of the developed parts of Clifton Park, those communities mostly don’t have sewer service. Leaders in those communities voted to join the sewer district with the understanding there would be no additional tax on residents, apart from the fees paid by people who get sewer service in the future.
The vote culminated several years of study, including an engineering study done by Delaware Engineering of Albany.
The sewer district has been centered on the historically fast-growth communities in the Northway corridor — Halfmoon, eastern Clifton Park, Malta, Ballston Spa, Saratoga Springs and Wilton. It was formed in the 1970s when some of the those communities were under court order to close obsolete local treatment plants.
Some neighborhoods outside the district boundary already have sewer service, and those customers pay a higher rate than district residents; making the district countywide will eliminate that difference in rates.
Davis said the district won’t be building any new collection pipes because of the expansion — most collection pipes are installed not by the district but by developers whose projects benefit from sewers.
Asked whether the expansion would promote more growth, Davis said: “That’s not the premise of the expansion.”
One of the few towns that decided not to join the expanded district was the town of Ballston.
Town Supervisor Patti Southworth said the Town Board decided to keep new sewers out to discourage unwanted development.
“I did bring the offer to the Town Board, and we decided that the way to protect our rural community is to not allow sewers into the town,” she said Wednesday.
Ballston, while rural in its northern and western sections, has some dense commercial and residential areas around Burnt Hills, and a known problem with failing septic systems in the Ballston Lake area.
Southworth said the town set aside money this year for a sewer study for the commercial area, and if it is commissioned the study would look at whether it makes more sense to connect to the county system or to try to make an arrangement with the town of Glenville.
“In my eyes, getting service into the commercial zone is important,” Southworth said.
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