MALONE –– Village officials are threatening to crack down on water and sewer customers who don’t pay what Mayor Andrea Dumas described as their “fair share.”
Following a public comment on the increase of rates for sewer service, specifically a jump from $59 to $75 per quarter on three units owned by Paule Conyer, the board discussed its efforts to hold residents and businesses who don’t pay their “fair share” –– as Dumas put it –– to account.
The board in the past has discussed how to deal with property owners who rent out space but pay water and sewer rates set for single-family housing units.
“It’s coming out. We’re giving them one warning and that’s it,” said Dumas.
“People that are turning a blind eye to our community –– we’re working on holding them accountable.”
Dumas went on to discuss that the village is working on taking action against two residents who don’t have water meters for filling their swimming pools without authorization, calling it a “theft of services.”
Dumas also said court action is an option the board is considering for those who don’t pay their due.
ven though residents may be unhappy with the water and sewer rates –– particularly the increases in the 2020-21 village budget approved in April, it’s still up to landlords to register the properties they lease to tenants so the village can levy the appropriate use charges.
“I know some people are shocked to see the change but it’s important people register their apartments and pay their fair share,” said Dumas.
Under the spending plan, water rents increased by $5 per quarter, bringing that rate to $60 a quarter. Sewer rates went up $11 per quarter to $70 per quarter.
The budget calls for a property tax rate at $19.73 per $1,000 of assessed property value - a few fractions of a cent below the current tax rate.
The increases are necessary to pay for several ongoing and anticipated upgrades to the water and sewer infrastructure, including the recently completed $19 million upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant and the anticipated installation of a third water source well in Chasm Falls to comply with state mandate.
The rate increases came as the village made significant cuts to its budget, including the Department of Public Works, and with the largest cut going to policing, which still receives the largest portion of taxpayer funds out of the services the village provides.
“Look at the businesses - they’re all gone - what are we going to do?” asked Trustee Matthew Boyea.
“We cut the budget tight this year,” said Dumas.
“This is going to be a stressful year for a lot of people,” she added later in the discussion.