It is often hard to read your comments when you so frequently know absolutely nothing about what you comment on. Since there is such a lack of knowledge about this matter and why we sued, I will post the questions that Gwen at the Chronicle asked me and my response. Many of the facts didn't make the article.
1. Given the lengthy, litigious, and very expensive history of disputes on this issue between the Village of Penn Yan and the Town of Jerusalem, why has TOJ decided to escalate matters by involving the third parties named in the suit?
The Town of Jerusalem has tried for years to talk with the Village of Penn Yan and negotiate a fair and equitable resolution of what we view as an overcharging for sewage treatment. Let me give you an example to illustrate: in fiscal year 2012-2013, Town of Jerusalem used 9.2% of Penn Yan's treatment (average use was 89,000 gpd). We contract and pay for 265,000 gallons per day maximum flow rate, which equates to 19.3%. Yet we paid 36.7% ($330, 556, plus $61,015) of Penn Yan’s Sewage treatment budget. If we paid 20% of Penn Yan's budget this year, which is the maximum amount we are allowed under the contract, we would have paid $176, 000 less.
We have contracted for 265,000 gpd. Discharge flow rates from the Village of Penn Yan are capped at 1.8 million gallons per day under their NYS permit. In April, 2014, the average daily rate of discharge was 1.86 million gallons per day. They have exceeded their permit and sold at least 60,000 gallons of our paid capacity to other customers. In addition, Penn Yan has many new large proposed developments which will use more of their capacity under their SPDES permit. Penn Yan is essentially selling capacity that we pay for under this contract twice.
2. In the last suit by PY against TOJ, the legal fees incurred by the village were paid out of the Sewage Treatment Plant budget. This means Jerusalem ratepayers had to contribute tens of thousands of dollars in PY's suit against their own town. It is likely this will again be the
case. How do you respond to Jerusalem ratepayers who are paying legal fees for both sides of this suit?
If we continue paying the Village of Penn Yan at a four times the rate we use sewage capacity, and almost double the maximum we contract for, while they sell it to new customers, how is that being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of the Town of Jerusalem? If you take the overage amount we paid this year, $176,000 and multiply that times 21 more years, we are looking at overpaying $3,676,000. How can we not try to make this right?
3. What does TOJ hope to achieve from this suit? If it is a renegotiated contract with PY, what changes does TOJ want in the new contract?
Our primary goal is to achieve a fair and reasonable rate for the Town of Jerusalem, and a long term solution to the regional sewage infrastructure challenges. Town of Jerusalem pays on the gross costs with no recognition of revenue. The current situation where, for example trucks which are purchased by Penn Yan Village with 37% of Jerusalem money, and resold 2 years later with funds returning only to Penn Yan coffers, cannot continue.
4. Mayor MacKerchar says while he is not ready to reopen negotiations at this moment, he was anticipating hearing from you and Ray Stewart with your concerns and questions regarding the contract. MacKerchar says he did not hear from either of you, and was surprised by the suit. Why did TOJ decide to take this path?
I have spoken with Mayor Mackerchar, and appreciate his reaching out to the Town of Jerusalem. I would like to discuss our concerns. However mere talk is not a resolution. I would point out that we have tried for years to resolve this, always with Penn Yan stating at the outset they will not reopen or renegotiate the contract. That is telling us they will listen to our concerns yet not address them.
5. If the third party developers decide not to pursue their plans, it will have an impact on the entire county. Is TOJ willing to cause these consequences to resolve this issue?
Gwen & John, your question displays a bias. We know of no legitimate developer who would not be willing to pay for their fair share of capacity, and they certainly cannot expect the Town of Jerusalem taxpayers to continue subsidizing them. Yes we initiated an action, but in response to nearly a decade of attempts to correct what we see as a tremendous overpayment, that if unchanged will cost Town of Jerusalem taxpayers millions of dollars. Why have Penn Yan Village Board and Municipal Board not taken some action to make this contract and the calculation of payment fair?
6. What was the roll call vote of the TOJ board members to pursue the suit?
Support for the decision to go forward with the litigation was unanimous. There was however one board member who was absent the day of the vote. As I recollect it was Killen-Aye, Dinehart-Aye, Jones-Aye and Parson-Aye.