As deadline looms, Scotia residents faced with higher water rates

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SCOTIA — All taxpayers serviced by the village of Scotia’s water system would see a 24% increase to their water bill if Glenville moves forward with plans to remove hundreds of its residents from the system, a move that officials are hoping to avoid ahead of an April 19 agreement deadline imposed by the town.

Scotia trustees learned about the potential increase during a special meeting Wednesday, days after Glenville officials presented the village with an ultimatum to freeze water rates paid by town residents on the village’s water system for the next five years or see the 625 Glenville properties serviced by Water District No. 2 removed from the system entirely.

Both scenarios would lead to increased water rates for village residents, according to an analysis presented by Prime AE, an Albany-based engineering firm the village hired to examine the issue.

But Glenville residents that make up Water Districts 3, 8 and 12, which are serviced by the village, would also face higher rates if the town were to move forward with its plans to create a new water tax district, according to the analysis.

Officials are still hoping to reach an agreement, but several Scotia trustees criticized long-time Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle over the proposal, accusing the town’s top lawmaker of using “bully tactics” to broker a deal that they say would be good for some town residents, negatively impact others and place an unnecessary burden on village taxpayers. 

They called on Koetzle to be more transparent with information on how town taxpayers would be impacted by the town’s actions and to hold a public information meeting to discuss the proposal and drop what they called an arbitrary deadline to settle the issue. 

“Bully tactics aren’t necessarily the best way to go about this, especially when you haven’t proven your case on the frontside, in my personal opinion,’ said Trustee George Solotruck. “It’s very frustrating to see things get announced when we don’t necessarily know about them.”

But Koetzle said he is trying to protect town residents from growing water rates imposed by the village, and has spent years trying to strike an agreement with village officials only to be rebuffed. The town, he said, is now in the position to offer quality water service to its residents at a price more affordable than what the village is currently offering.  

He said village officials have refused to negotiate in the past and are now using “stall tactics” to delay the town’s plans, and said his proposal is the best path forward for all parties involved.  

“We’ve done our due diligence, we’ve had our engineers look at this and the fact they can’t seem to grasp that this is something that is not only obtainable, but optimal is upsetting,” Koetzle said. “We’ve been at this for three, four years, more and for them to say now in the 11th-and-half-hour that they don’t have enough information is concerning to me.”

Koetzle has set an April 19 deadline for the village to agree to the fixed-rate proposal. Town lawmakers, he said, are prepared to move forward with approving the new water district that same day at their board meeting that night.

Mayor David Bucciferro on Thursday said he is hoping to set up a meeting with Glenville officials in the coming days and hopes to arrive at a handshake agreement that would be beneficial to all residents. 

“We’re still interested in trying to do something that would allow both sides to have a — I don’t want to use the word win, because it’s not a win — but to be in a situation that’s beneficial to each municipality,” Bucciferro said.

What’s at stake?

Residents serviced by the Scotia water system will see an increase to their water bill no matter how village officials decide to move forward, according to the analysis.

If village trustees were to reject the fixed-rate proposal and the town moved forward with plans to remove the 625 parcels that make up Water District No. 2, all taxpayers, including town residents, serviced by the village water system would see their water bill increase by 24%, the study found. 

Water District No 2. includes the Glenville Business Park as well as residents located south of Mohawk Avenue. The district is made up primarily of residential properties.

The increase would raise water fees paid by village residents from the current $145.20 to $180.37, according to the study.

But the more than 500 Glenville residents that make up Water Districts 3, 8 and 12, would also see their water fees grow from $197.60 to $245.27, the study found. 

Town residents pay a higher water rate than village residents due to a 1.36 multiplier that has been in place since the 1980s, which is below the average 1.5 multiplier seen around the state, according to Douglas Cole, an engineer with Prime AE.

A multiplier is common practice and helps to recoup costs associated with delivering water to outside municipalities. 

“It’s a tough thing to understand why because we’re good neighbors working together,” said Trustee Justin Cook, who said it’s unclear why Koetzle set an April 19 deadline. “Unless it’s an emergency issue, I just want to know what’s the rush.”

But Koetzle on Thursday said the increased rate for town residents would only accelerate plans to bring all town properties serviced by village water into the Glenville water system, though he did not have a time frame for when those plans would move forward or any information on what water rates residents in Water Districts 3, 8 and 12 would pay under town service. 

An engineering study released by the town last year found that the cost to move all four water districts onto the town system would cost more than $17.2 million. That would also cover closing in loops with the Scotia system and installing pressure valves, Koetzle said. 

If Glenville were to move all its residents onto town water, village residents would see their water bills grow by 55%, according to the study. That would mean a water fee of $225.70, up from the currently $145.20.

Residents in Water District No. 2, Koetzle said, would only pay around $75 annually for water if the town were to move forward with its plans. The cost to bring residents that live south of Mohawk Avenue into the town’s water system would cost $3 million.

He said that village officials would be “foolish” not to accept the fixed-rate proposal, which he said would give the village guaranteed income over the next five years while giving the rates an opportunity to level.

“I’m working hard to preserve revenue for the village of Scotia because they obviously need it,” Koetzle said. “Scotia is part of my community too.”. Those people are part of the town, too. People lose track of that, that Scotia residents are Glenville residents. I’m trying to help them all.”

Freezing rates

But if the village were to freeze rates, village water users would also see an impact, the study found.

The existing $145.20 water fee paid by villager water users would grow to $198.94 by 2028, according to the study, which used a 3% inflation rate per year to examine the totals. 

“This results in an annual average 4.6% increase in water rates to a typical village user over the 5-year period and ultimately an increase of 37% in village rates from the current 2023 charges,” the study says.

There is also the possibility of reducing the current 1.36 multiplier to 1.25. The move would require the town taking over water service in the business park and would result in a 10.47% increase for village residents and a 1.7% increase for town residents, according to the study. 

Koetzle said village officials have not presented details about lowering the multiplier, but said doing so would not address the issue of increasing water rates in the village. 

“They’ve been raising rates on our residents and their residents consistently for years,” he said. “It doesn’t change. It doesn’t seem to matter what happens, they continue to raise the rates.”


Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County, Scotia Glenville

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