At its June 20 meeting, the Halfmoon town board voted to nearly double the yearly sewer rates paid to the Colonial Green Sewerage Disposal Corp. Inc. at its meeting June 20.
Councilman Walter Polak said that the increase in rates could not be helped because without it, the sewer system would fail.
The town had an obligation to the residents of that area to ensure that the sewer system works properly, he said.
Owner of Colonial Green Sewerage Disposal Corp., Jim Zalewski, said he needed the extra money because of several maintenance problems with the sewer system.
Zalewski said between 23 and 25 Bayberry Street, there is a drainage problem where water is getting sucked into the sewage line. On Cambridge Court, the pipeline needs to be fixed because things keep getting clogged in the line. Since the area has a high water level, residents have installed pipes to drain their yards, which Zalewski said are messing up the sewer systems.
The system was installed in 1965 and there has not been an increase in rates since that time. Zalewski is asking that the current rate of $82.43 after taxes be raised to $160.56 after taxes.
Colonial Green’s annual revenues will increase from $12,447 to $24,246, and will give the company an annual profit of $3,240
instead of a $6,864 loss.
Town Attorney Lyn Murphy said Zalewski is entitled to ask for a rate increase every five years. Colonial Green’s rates have never been increase since its installation.
Murphy said the increase in rates was not for profit, but to make sure the sewer system could function safely.
Some people in the town and town officials expressed their displeasure with the proposed rate increase at the meeting, saying that the town should not have to pay for Zalewski’s bad investments.
By law, if Zalewski abandons the company, Colonial Green will
become the responsibility of the town.
Halfmoon Supervisor Kenneth DeCerce said, `The town does not want to be in the sewage business.`
Colonial Green is privately held and not installed to current standards. If the town were to take over the sewer system, it would try to hand it over to Saratoga County quickly. In order to do that the system would have to be upgraded to Saratoga County standards. Councilman James Bold said that would require a substantial capital investment, which would cost residents, much more than what Zalewski was requesting.
Some residents were concerned about Zalewski’s business plan. Zalewski gave no indication that he would be repairing the system by Saratoga County standards, or if the extra money would even fix the problems.
Councilwoman Regina Parker said, `I don’t think you have a very good business plan, and until you put it down right, I don’t think that you can ask for 100 percent increase.`
Bold said Zalewski had a short-term plan that made the current business into a viable one and did not result in a long-range sewer system. But, he said he did not see any other way to go.
`I don’t see a reasonable way to avoid this, and if there is I’d like to know it,` he said.
DeCerce asked Zalewski what he would do if the increase were not approved, and he said the maintenance projects would have to wait until the funds came in.
`I’m a fighter. I’ve been in this business for 20 years. I don’t let things go this easily,` he said.
The increase was approved 3-1, with Parker dissenting. “