Schenectady County

Scotia eyes own sewage plant, at a cost of $15 million

The Scotia Board of Trustees is taking its first step toward constructing its own wastewater treatme

The Scotia Board of Trustees is taking its first step toward constructing its own wastewater treatment plant.

The board voted earlier this month to pursue state funding for the project, which Mayor Kris Kastberg said is estimated to cost around $15 million.

Over the past few years, Kastberg said, the village has been interested in building its own wastewater plant because it pays the city of Schenectady close to $750,000 each year to send its wastewater to the city’s plant, located on Anthony Street.

Kastberg said the project has become possible for the first time because the village is eligible for state funding for having a low income, and could borrow the estimated $15 million at zero percent interest for 30 years.

“The reason we’re doing this is because of the cost of sending our wastewater to Schenectady,” Kastberg said Monday. “Schenectady has some very large capital projects they’re going to have to do with their plant … we’d be responsible for about 10 percent of the cost of it.”

With its own wastewater treatment plant, the mayor said, the village would save an estimated $104,000 its first year and continue saving every year.

“That’s why it makes sense for us to do it,” Kastberg said.

Village Trustee Keven Mathes disagrees, and was the only Village Board member to vote against applying for funding. The vote was 3-1.

“At this time, I feel we shouldn’t be moving forward with the application process because there’s other, more important things we need to focus on,” Mathes said.

The trustee brought up fixing the village pump station and other decades-old infrastructure problems.

“If we have money to borrow at zero percent, there’s other things we should be focusing on as opposed to creating a whole new project,” Mathes said. “This is a time when municipalities are trying to partner up to combine services, not doing things on our own.”

“This isn’t money to be spent anywhere,” Kastberg said. “It can’t be used for anything other than what we got the determination for, which is the wastewater treatment plant project.”

Even so, Mathes said he feels moving forward on the project is fiscally irresponsible.

“You’re not getting charged interest, but there’s still a cost associated with it — it’s going to be passed through the water and sewer funds,” Mathes said.

“With a savings of $104,000 the first year, I don’t see that fee going up. I see it staying stable or going down,” Kastberg said. “I’m not clear when Keven was saying we’re spending money because we’re not — we’re investing money in the construction of the plant, but the whole analysis takes into account construction, our debt and everything, and you still come out with $104,000.”

The board is interested in a few properties for the potential plant, especially one in the village along the bike path on Washington Avenue.

The property borders the Mohawk River and is across the water from Schenectady’s Stockade Historic District.

The state money would also cover the purchase of the land, according to Kastberg.

Mathes said he wasn’t sure the vote held during a work session was valid or legal because it wasn’t done at a regular meeting.

Glenville Town Attorney Michael Cuevas said municipalities are not prohibited from voting at a work session, as long as the public was notified of the meeting and what was voted on was included in the agenda.

The village posts an agenda with its topics for every work session at the village building and on its website, and did so for its Feb. 2 session.

Scotia’s village attorney, Lydia Marola, did not return calls for comment Monday.

“I feel a lot of things are not being discussed in full,” Mathes said. “Looking at the minutes from the meeting [work session], my questions and concerns about this project weren’t put on there. Nowhere was it addressed on record.

“That’s why I brought it up at the regular meeting last week.”

Last week Mathes made a motion to “put the brakes on the wastewater treatment plant,” revisit the project and hold another vote later on.

The motion was not seconded or carried further.

“I’m not privy to every conversation, but as a trustee, I should have more information than this,” Mathes said. “This decision was made when we’re speculating on a lot of information.”

The village has until March 1, 2017, to apply for state funding for the wastewater plant project, and is looking at a two-year process.

“We have time,” Kastberg said. “We’re also eligible for some grants we want to go for, so we have the time to do this right.”

Reach Gazette reporter Kate Seckinger at 395-3113, [email protected] or @KateSeckinger on Twitter.

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