Town balks at charges for meter and water use
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.