Town balks at charges for me­ter and wa­ter use

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

Of­fi­cials are gear­ing up for a battle over the vil­lage’s plan to in­stall a wa­ter me­ter and back­flow pre­ven­ter at Thomas Thomp­son-Sally Maz­zarella Park and charge the town up to about $55,000 to cover most of the cost.

At a Town Board meet­ing Mon­day, town Su­per­vi­sor El­iz­a­beth Spinzia said the vil­lage’s plan to re­cover costs through user fees vi­o­lates an in­ter­mu­nic­i­pal agree­ment for over­sight of the park.

“The is­sue here is about start­ing work with­out no­ti­fy­ing us or get­ting ap­proval from the (town) Plan­ning Board,” she said.

Cost es­ti­mates of be­tween $50,000 and $65,000 have been given for the me­ter in­stal­la­tion, with town of­fi­cials say­ing dis­cus­sions about a me­ter should have been in­cluded in a 2003 joint agree­ment gov­ern­ing park plans and op­er­a­tions or a 2012 amend­ment that ad­dressed a new park com­pre­hen­sive plan.

“I think they’re go­ing to try to put it through, charg­ing us for wa­ter to the tune of $8,000 a year,” Spinzia said.

Vil­lage Mayor Heath Tortarella said the me­ter is ex­pected to be in­stalled next month and will be sep­a­rate from one al­ready in­stalled for the pool. He added the me­ter is not cov­ered by the in­ter­mu­nic­i­pal agree­ment and falls into the same reg­u­la­tions that al­low the Town Hall and town High­way Depart­ment garage to be charged user fees.

“Ba­si­cally, the way the park was set up in the ’70s, it was a do­na­tion of land jointly to the town and the vil­lage and the agree­ment back to that time is that it will be op­er­ated by the town and the vil­lage will pro­vide police cov­er­age for the park, and that is about the ex­tent of it,” he said.

“Any­body who wants to build a new house and you want to tap into the wa­ter main, you fill out an ap­pli­ca­tion and I be­lieve there is a fee as­so­ci­ated with tap­ping fee, which cov­ers the su­per­vi­sion from the Wa­ter Depart­ment of the ac­tual work be­ing done on the main,” Tortarella said. “That’s noth­ing new. That’s been es­tab­lished in the code for ... decades.”

Spinzia said there are con­cerns that vil­lage wa­ter bills use con­nec­tion fees as a way to over­charge for service.

“The is­sue that we have with the wa­ter is that they are charg­ing our High­way Depart­ment a quar­terly charge and we don’t use any­where near the amount of wa­ter that they’re charg­ing us for,” she said.

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