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Audit: Canajoharie homeowners face average tax hike of $2,700

Audit: Canajoharie homeowners face average tax hike of $2,700

Canajoharie homeowners face an average tax increase of $2,700 per household expected once Beech-Nut

Property owners always cringe when they start hearing what their tax increases will be for upcoming years.

But in the village of Canajoharie, cringing won't relieve any of the pain that will come from an average increase of $2,700 per household expected once Beech-Nut stops operating in the village.

Beech-Nut is the biggest user of the village's water and sewer services. And when the company departs, the village will have to increase fees to a level the state Comptroller's Office describes as "unsustainable."

An audit released today details the plight of the village, which is set to lose about 70 percent of the revenue from the wastewater treatment plant which auditors say "will be devastating."

State officials hailing the investment of more than $100 million into the Hero/Beech-Nut's new baby food manufacturing plant promised the village they'd make sure it was taken care of.

But since then, efforts to market the 25-acre site have failed.

To make matters worse, efforts to maintain the water and wastewater plants to accommodate Beech-Nut have left the village $3.3 million in debt — adding another $120 per-year to the cost of those who remain in the village.

All told, the state Comptroller's Office estimates property owners will pay $1,047 more for water and $1,540 for sewer in addition to the $120 for debt.

"It doesn't look good, but we're very optimistic," Village Trustee Garth MacFarland said.

MacFarland said for now, Beech-Nut is running a six-day production shift and using more water and sewer services than before.

But at some point, that will end.

"We're not complaining because we get the income. As long as that lasts, fine. But they can't and won't give us a date," MacFarland said.

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