Publication:Schenectady Daily Gazette; Date:Dec 13, 2008; Section:Local News; Page:12
Spa State Park gets a break on county sewer bill
BY STEPHEN WILLIAMS Gazette Reporter Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 885-6705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials at Saratoga Spa State Park have won a concession from Saratoga County that should save about $54,000 on the park’s sewer bill next year.
The county sewer district has agreed to revise its billing method for the park, using actual flow fi gures rather than billing based on peak use, which appears to have inflated the bill.
That means the park — facing the same budget struggles as all other state agencies — will see its sewer bill drop from $98,700 to an estimated $44,100 with the January bill.
“This level of solid expense cut could really help us,” said Alane Chinian, regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The sewer bill is the park’s single largest outside bill, she said.
Chinian had complained about the size of the bill at a rate hearing held last month by county sewer commissioners, had her request for a reduction denied, then appealed the rate set by the commissioners to the county Board of Supervisors.
That appeal led to negotiating the new billing method.
The billing was approved Wednesday by the county board’s Law and Finance Committee and should be routinely approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday in Ballston Spa as part of a package of sewer rates.
“This is an elegant solution,” Chinian said. “It charges us for what we put in, and that’s fair.”
The 2,500-acre park just south of the city includes the Gideon Putnam Hotel and Conference Center, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Hall of Springs, several mineral baths, a golf course and two museums. All those facilities are under the state park’s single sewer bill so its sewage flow varies greatly, depending on attendance at SPAC concerts and other activities.
Chinian said last month that there’s also snow-melt running into the sewer lines in the spring, but the park staff is trying to fi x the problem, which is common in aging sewers.
The sewer district will be losing revenue but it won’t mean a significant impact within the $8.9 million sewer rate levy, said James DiPasquale, the district’s executive director.
“It will not affect other users,” said William J. Davis, chairman of the county sewer commission.
Nearly all of the district’s 65,000 customers pay a flat fee annually, based on how much sewage a single-family house is expected to generate, or a multiple of that number for multi-unit buildings and businesses.
The park’s billing was different in that it paid based on a calculation of its annual maximum daily flow, even though an actual metered measurement was available. The meter reading will now be used to calculate the following year’s bill.
“This is the only user this really applies to in this big a manner,” said County Attorney Mark M. Rider