Village property owners will save over a hundred bucks this fall as the Village Board of Trustees has agreed to a one-time suspension in EDU water payments as it moves forward in cleaning up debt related to the establishment of its emergency water supply system.
Trustees unanimously approved a resolution at their September meeting to waive the $110 bi-yearly EDU payment due in October because there is enough money in the EDU account to make the next United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loan payment due in February, 2015.
The $3.9 million USDA hardship loan was granted to the village a few years ago after tests in 2008 reveal PCBs were present in the village Hudson River drinking water supply. From the 1940s to 1977, General Electric discharged PCBs into the Hudson River from two upstream plants and the company was ordered to dredge 40 miles of riverbed between Fort Edward and Troy.
The USDA loan was secured by the village to pay the cost of running piping to hook up to the Saratoga County Water Authority so it could purchase safe drinking water from that source. To pay back the loan, the village established an EDU water rent system in 2012, billing village property owners $220 a year per dwelling unit. Residents are billed half in October and the other half in April.
In the meantime, the village also joined other river municipalities in filing a lawsuit against GE to recover the money it expended. A settlement was reached with GE earlier this year. The town and village had been negotiating the disbursement of those funds for some time, before coming up with an agreement this month.
The Village Board approved a settlement resolution with the town on September 16, and the Town Board joined them at its meeting two days later. The Village and Town Boards, in identical resolutions at their monthly meetings of June 16 and 18 respectively, have agreed $86,000 is to be paid to the Town; and the balance of $4,368,469, to the Village.
Although legally this is just a one-time EDU payment suspension for residents, the Village Board’s goal is to permanently eliminate the EDUs system it created by paying off the USDA loan in full with the GE settlement funds. That has been the board’s long-term goal from the beginning.
“So then this (one-time EDU suspension) is just a formality at this point?” asked Trustee Ellen Vomacka. “If we pay off the USDA loan before the spring then we won’t have to collect EDUs in April as well?”
“Once we pay off the loan and the USDA clears us, then we can go back and write up (resolutions) to do away with the EDUs and rewrite our water regulations,” answered Trustee and Deputy Mayor John Basile. “One step at a time.”
The village will release more information as it moves forward in the process, said Mayor Ernest Martin.