Former Greenport utilities director and village board member Bill Swiskey is challenging a pending five percent hike in sewer rates, insisting the utility will post a surplus of about $265,000 this year.
Sewer rates have increased 21 percent since Mayor David Nyce took office in 2007, Mr. Swiskey said.
“Financially, you don’t need a rate increase,” he said. “Whoever put these figures together should be made to explain how they arrive at their conclusions and dismissed if they can’t,” he added, taking a swipe at current utilities director Jack Naylor.
Mr. Naylor last month defended his proposal, explaining that he arrived at the 5 percent number based on estimates of system upgrade costs. That’s not a part of the waste water treatment plant project expected to be completed in the late fall.
Mr. Nyce wouldn’t directly respond to Mr. Swiskey’s claims, but said the funding is needed to pay for major pump station repairs, sewer main repairs and major equipment repairs. That’s a $60,000 hit for which the village can’t use grant funds, he said.
It’s possible the village might qualify for some funding in the future from a Community Development Block Grant. But in the meantime, Mr. Nyce said he wants to annually allocate $60,000 to assure that the utility doesn’t ever again face the extreme disrepair that he found when he entered Village Hall.
The Village Board’s public hearing on the sewer rate hike is slated for 6 p.m. Monday night at the Third Street Firehouse.