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Village officials again debate water and sewer hook up fees

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MASSENA - Village trustees again discussed whether to change they way the village charges for water and sewer hook ups from a flat rate to a percent-based formula, but again took no action on the policy.

Despite a ruling from Supreme Court Justice David Demarest, Trustee Frances J. Carvel, who originally suggested switching to a flate rate in 2010, continues to stand by the village’s current billing practices, which Mr. Demarest ruled to be illegal.

“I, myself, don’t see what we have to change anything,” Mr. Carvel said. “What we’re doing right now is the fairest way of doing things. Going by time and materials leaves too many variables out there.”

Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld, who serves on the village’s water and sewer committee, said that while he likes the village’s current law it violates state law and must be changed.

“I don’t disagree with the law put forth in 2010. The only trouble is it’s illegal,” Mr. Ahlfeld said, suggesting village residents be charged for 50 percent of the costs associated with time and materials involved with the hookup at their property.

Village Clerk Patricia A. Dumas asked about non-village residents.

Mr. Ahlfeld said at this point he does not have an answer about those ratepayers.

“I haven’t given it much thought,” he said, explaining he wanted to make sure the final law gave village residents using the system an added benefit over users residing outside the village.

“There has to be an advantage for being a village resident,” he said.

Ms. Dumas noted that prior to any board action the law must address village and non-village residents. If those changes are made and can be agreed upon by the board at its next meeting, Ms. Dumas said a vote could take place next month.

“If it’s ready for the next meeting, we’ll have it for the second meeting in September,” she said.

The village’s current law, which was enacted in 2010, charges residents $500 for a water or sewer connection if the hookup is on the same side of the road as the lateral, $750 if the connection is in the middle of the road and $1,000 if the connection is on the opposite side of the road.

Mr. Carvel suggested the change, after village officials had received several complaints from residents about how much they had been billed for sewer and/or water hookups.

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