Users of the Saratoga County Sewer District can expect to pay more for service in 2014.
County sewer commissioners on Wednesday approved a proposal to increase rates by $10 per user, to an average of $187. Actual rates will vary widely from community to community, based on the cost of the local sewage collection system.
Read the county's rate proposal on the Around Saratoga blog.
Commission Chairman William J. Davis said the sewer district needs to raise more money to keep up with the cost of repairing infrastructure that is nearly four decades old.
“We just have so much infrastructure, tons of problems,” Davis said Thursday. “Things are just caving in. It’s mostly age.”
The district in recent years has seen both significant growth in the number of connections and deterioration of its main trunk line from chemical reactions inside the pipe. For several years, it has been working on repairs to the main trunk line that brings waste from Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa to the treatment plant in Halfmoon, installing a plastic liner that is resistant to the chemical reactions.
The proposed rate increase will raise about $736,000, Davis said, with the money to go toward repairs.
A public hearing on the proposed rates will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the county board room in Ballston Spa. Commissioners are likely to approve the rates at a meeting immediately after the hearing.
The final decision on the rates is up to the county Board of Supervisors, which will consider them as part of the 2014 county budget. However, that board has always accepted the commission’s recommendations.
The sewer district budget for next year will be about $15 million, but spending details won’t come out until Thursday, when the tentative county budget is released.
The last time customer rates went up was in 2010, when they were raised $10 per connection to cover financing of a $52 million expansion at the county treatment plant.
Under the proposed 2014 rate structure, local costs will range from $167 per connection in Mechanicville to $273 per connection for households around Saratoga Lake.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners recommended the engineering consulting firm O’Brien & Gere of Syracuse be hired to do a comprehensive study of the sewer district’s future needs. That will include consideration of whether the district will eventually need a second treatment plant in the northern part of the county, Davis said.
The commission made plans for a plant in Northumberland, but stepped back from them this summer after questions were raised about the need.
The $85,000 contract will require approval from the Board of Supervisors, which will consider it in November.