In reversal, Rotterdam OKs borrowing for sewer plant fixes

Was opposed in November by 2 Republican board members
A partial view of the Rotterdam Waste Water Treatment Plant on West Campbell Road.
A partial view of the Rotterdam Waste Water Treatment Plant on West Campbell Road.

ROTTERDAM — The Rotterdam Town Board on Monday reversed a previous decision by approving $500,000 in new borrowing for sewage treatment plant upgrades, clearing the way for construction to start.

In a 4-0 vote, the board increased the authorized borrowing limit for upgrades at the plant from $2.2 million to $2.7 million. Republican Councilman Joe Guidarelli, one of two new Town Board members, voted in favor of the borrowing, which had been opposed in November by two Republican members who had not sought re-election.

“I do see the need for upgrades,” said Guidarelli, who recently toured the treatment plant. He is now the only Republican on the board, since the other open seat was filled by Democrat Stephen Signore.

Town Supervisor Steven Tommasone sought a new vote on the borrowing limit at the board’s annual organization meeting in the hope of expediting the project, after the Town Board in November turned down the request.

Tommasone said contractors have already extended the deadline on their bid prices, pending a decision on the borrowing limit. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has also been pressing for both a construction schedule and details on project financing.

“The plant has needed upgrades and attention for at least 10 years or longer,” Tommasone said. “Processes within the plant — just everything, every facet of that process — needs tremendous attention.”

The planned work will be the first significant upgrades to the plant off Campbell Road since 1996, and in some instances will include replacing equipment that dates from the 1960s or earlier. The work will include pump station upgrades, replacement of the plant’s backup generator and replacement of various pieces of equipment.

Serious planning for the work has been underway since mid-2016, when the engineering consultant estimated the cost at $2.1 million. At that time, the Town Board authorized $2.2 million in borrowing, but the costs have turned out to be higher.

“Once they got into the plant and looked at the work that needed to be accomplished, there was more that needed to be done than they thought,” Tommasone said. Also, he said costs for labor and materials have risen since the original estimate was developed.

When Tommasone sought to increase the borrowing to $2.7 million in November, Republicans Joe Vellano and Richard Larmour voted against it. The resolution failed in the 3-2 vote because town borrowing measures require four affirmative votes. Vellano said the town should find other places to cut the budget, rather than borrow more money.

Tommasone said the upgrades will allow the plant to accept more wastewater and add new sewer connections that will help defray the cost. He said he doesn’t expect costs to go up for sewer users, in part because some old treatment plant debt was paid off in 2016.

“The improvements themselves will afford us efficiencies; we will be able to process more material,” Tommasone said. “Without these improvements, the town would be stifled in future development.”

Developers and the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority have paid for improvements elsewhere in the town sewer collection system, including at the large Curry Road pumping station, Tommasone said.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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