LAKE GEORGE — Town officials are balking at the price tag for the village’s $24 million wastewater treatment plant, but time is running out as contracts to build the plant must be awarded next month to stay on the state-mandated timetable.
So far, the village has obtained only about $6.75 million in grant funding and would have to bond about $17 million.
Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said he has always made sure that, before the town starts any project, it has the financing. There is no guarantee that the state will come up with any more aid, however.
“This just makes us really nervous. I’m not comfortable,” he said Monday at a joint meeting of the town and village boards.
“We’re looking at an increase of 2 1/2 times in the sewer bill,” he said.
The town contracts with the village to discharge its waste from the Caldwell Sewer District, and its share of the cost of the plant is based on the amount of its effluent, which is about 50% of the flow to the plant.
Village Mayor Robert Blais said the village’s contract with the town requires that both parties agree before proceeding with any capital projects. The village has to award the bids by around July 18, or the contractors will have the right to withdraw them.
Dickinson said he’s optimistic the village will get some additional funding, but he does not know how much.
“I had dinner with the governor one night. He promised he would take care of us. That was two years ago. We’re still waiting,” he said.
Town Board member Dan Hurley said that, with this debt, rates for people in the district are likely to triple. Hurley said he believes the bids were high.
“The Hoover Dam cost $49 million and how long did that last? Forever.”
Hurley asked how many bids were received.
Engineer Shawn Doty of the Chazen Companies said each contract received at least two bids with the general contracting having more than 16. He does not believe rebidding the project would help.
“Oftentimes, that can result in even higher bids,” he said.
Doty said the cost is high, because this is a complete replacement of a plant with new technology rather than a rehabilitation of an existing plant. The existing plant does not meet discharge limits. The village needs a plant to accommodate peak flows during the tourist season of up to 1.2 million gallons per day.
Other reasons cited for high bids are that contractors are busy, and the tariffs on steel and aluminum have raised costs.
Doty said the village was fortunate that it qualified for 0% interest financing based upon the income of residents. That will save about $5.2 million in interest payments over 30 years.
Flow amounts questioned
Town officials also have expressed concern about the amount of flow the Caldwell Sewer District is generating. The town has installed slip lines in some of the pipes to reduce the amount of stormwater infiltration. But that does not seem to be decreasing the flow.
Doty said there could still be locations where inflow is happening, including from sump pumps connected to the system.
He presented a graph, showing that the town’s high flows correspond to rainy days.
“In the spring and late winter months, when precipitation starts to go up, you see these spikes,” he said.
Also, the lateral connections to the main sewer lines need to be checked out, he said.
The village is seeking to have no more than $9 million of the cost shouldered by local taxpayers, according to Blais. He said village officials have been applying for all the sources of funding they can find, including federal grants and $200,000 in county occupancy tax money.
Town Board member Marisa Muratori asked whether there are any other grants the village could seek.
Doty said the state consolidated funding applications are due on July 26. The village has applied for that and not received funding.
Another potential source is the Empire State Development infrastructure grant. The village already has obtained a $2.5 million Water Quality Improvement Program grant.
Muratori expressed frustration with the lack of state funding.
“They’re asking us to commit to that, but at the same time, they know we cannot afford to build it with the monies we have obtained so far,” she said.
Blais said he remained optimistic the state would provide more funding, based upon calls he has received from the governor’s office.
“Have faith people. Have faith,” he said.