For the second year in a row, users of the Saratoga County Sewer District will see rates go up $10 in 2015 if a proposed hike is approved.
District officials said they need to raise rates across the board to keep up with the increasing costs of maintaining a nearly 40-year-old collection and treatment system.
“We have tons of maintenance,” sewer commission Chairman William J. Davis said.
At a meeting at the treatment plant in Halfmoon on Wednesday, county sewer commissioners approved a proposal to increase rates by $10 per user, to an average of $197 per year — the second year in a row with a $10 across-the-board increase.
Actual rates will vary widely from community to community, based on the cost of the local sewage collection system. The district charges a flat rate per connection, though large users are charged for multiple connections.
“They are still among the lowest rates,” Davis said.
District Executive Director Chad Cooke said the rate increase, if approved, would generate an additional $757,000 next year, based on the district having nearly 76,000 users. In all, sewer users will be paying $14.9 million next year, if the rate increase is approved.
The district in recent years has seen both significant growth in the number of users and deterioration of its main trunk line from decades of chemical reactions inside the pipes.
The district is now spending about $1 million per year on relining the main trunk line, and this year and next will be spending $2.5 million to upgrade the large pumping station in Milton. It also just appropriated $900,000 to cover the cost of trucking sludge from the plant, due to breakdowns in the incinerator used to burn sludge.
A public hearing on the proposed rates will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the county boardroom 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 2015 county budget. However, that board has always accepted the commission’s recommendations.
Prior to this year, customer rates last rose in 2010, when they were raised $10 per connection to cover financing of a $52 million expansion of the county treatment plant.
The district provides sewer service to most of the southern part of the county, from Halfmoon and Clifton Park north to Wilton. More than 100,000 residents, plus businesses ranging from dental offices to the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant, use the district for wastewater disposal.
Under the proposed 2015 rate structure, local costs will range from $177 per connection in Mechanicville to $283 per connection for households around Saratoga Lake.