There is probably no greater resource – other than breathable air – more important to our region than Lake George.
Its pristine waters and beautiful vistas are the engine that drives the tourism economy in our region.
Sure, there are other important reasons to visit our slice of heaven, but none more important than Lake George. It is the destination and its health and well-being must be protected at any cost.
This week, Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais said that cost would be $200,000 a year over the course of a 30-year bond while building a new wastewater treatment plant.
Lake George’s aging plant has been malfunctioning for some time and the state has demanded a new plant be built by the end of 2021. Unfortunately, Lake George has secured just $7.2 million of the $24 million — but that cost will probably rise — needed to build the plant.
Blais, out of ideas and almost out of time, addressed the Warren County Board of Supervisors Tuesday and asked the county to dip into its bed tax or sales tax monies at $200,000 a year. He said that number would reduce the tax burden on village residents to an acceptable level. Without the help from the county, each village resident would be responsible for up to $26,000 of the plant’s cost.
While we sympathize with the plight of Mayor Blais and the challenges he faces in raising the money, the village does shoulder significant blame in not addressing this issue sooner, while also going forward with a significant hotel project that further strained the system.
The good news is that Warren County’s bed tax has been healthy — it took in $4.3 million last year — and there is precedent for what the village is asking.
The county contributes $60,000 a year to fight invasive species in the lake while also contributing $250,000 a year to support the Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.
Warren County definitely has the money, and we believe that securing the water quality of the county’s number one tourist attraction fits perfectly with the mission of the bed tax.
What does bother us is that the wastewater treatment plant is not the only threat to water quality in the lake. Communities all around the lake continue to grapple with out-of-date and failing residential septic systems.
If Warren County is to make a commitment to Lake George water quality, it should also be working with local towns and villages so that residents adjacent to the lake are also being held accountable for water quality.
Mayor Blais’ contention that he is willing to go to jail before he inflicts taxpayer Armageddon on village residents seems a bit dramatic to us, but it is a reminder of how few year-round residents live in the village.
We wonder if a good compromise measure would be a five-year commitment from the county of $200,000 a year while Mayor Blais seeks further funding from the state and federal government.
After all, Sen. Charles Schumer was just here pledging to help if he can. A limited commitment from the county might give Schumer and Gov. Cuomo more of an incentive to be part of the solution.
If the monies cannot be found after five years, Warren County could review another funding request.
We concur that something must be done immediately to help Lake George, but we hesitate when it comes to a 30-year commitment.
Post-Star editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Interim Publisher Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representatives Jean Aurilio, Connie Bosse and Barbara Sealy.