Greenport Village Board members unanimously approved an immediate 5 percent hike in sewer rates Monday night, with Trustee Chris Kempner absent from the meeting.
Before the measure was approved, Trustee Mary Bess Phillips asked the mayor for assurance that similar increases wouldn’t be enacted in the future. Previous discussions had focused on a proposal for a 5 percent per year increases to cover rising maintenance costs.
The increase is designed to ensure the availability of funds for ongoing maintenance of the system, Mayor David Nyce said, after saying no automatic increases are planned.
From the time he took office in 2007, he said, his commitment has been to rebuild the neglected infrastructure of village utilities and he wants to be sure that money is available for maintenance each year.
In casting his vote for the increase, Trustee George Hubbard said he wants to see work get started “right away” and see that a long-planned backup generator for the electric plant is purchased soon.
Ms. Phillips echoed his words.
“In the past two years, there’s been a lot of frustration in getting projects moving,” she said.
The board action came after last month’s public hearing, at which residents railed against any increase, insisting there was money in the sewer department fund to cover maintenance without an increase this year.
But Mr. Nyce insisted that money was allocated to projects under way and planned and that additional funds would be needed to be sure that the wastewater treatment plant and collection system are both improved and properly maintained.
Sewer system smoke tests, designed to detect leaks of groundwater into pipes, will begin Monday, Sept. 19. Residents are advised that the smoke is non-toxic, but the mayor is asking them to report any incidents in which smoke permeates their homes — and to leave the premises if that happens.
More information will be distributed to village residents, both through newspaper ads and door-to-door fliers.
American legion arrangement.
Plans for the village to lease the American Legion post for recreational activities are tied to an application for grant funds to refurbish the premises. Only if the grant is forthcoming will the village press forward with the lease, Mr. Nyce explained last week.
The grant, which would come from the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, requires an ongoing relationship between the village and Legion that would be realized by village plans to lease the space, the mayor said.
EMPOWERING UTILITIES CHIEF
Despite questions about why utilities chief Jack Naylor should be able to write appearance tickets for violations, Village Board members are expected to approve changes in the enforcement code next month to make those powers clear.
Because Mr. Naylor and other utilities department staff are often on the streets during snowstorms and brush pickup, they need the power to write tickets for rule violations that affect these activities, Mr. Nyce said.
He assured that Mr. Naylor and another utilities department personnel, to be named and approved by the board, will be properly trained in issuing violations.
TRAINING WON’T CARRY A RAISE
Electric department manager Jim Fogarty got the OK to take a course in advanced meter training, but completion of the course won’t qualify him for a salary hike. Mr. Fogarty has already been handling much of the work he’s about to be trained in while on the job, according to Mr. Naylor. While Mr. Fogarty knows his job, he knows only what he has been taught to do, not what might be the latest and best procedures, Mr. Naylor said.