Group rallies against passed bill
The bill, if signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, will require the Hudson River Black River Regulating District to undertake a comprehensive study regarding the beneficiaries of the district and real property tax appointments to establish a standard method in determining “any future apportionment.”
According to a press release, the bill was passed by the Assembly with 137 votes in favor to 0 and by the Senate with 60 votes in favor to 0. Some legislators were “excused” from voting.
There leading the rally were co-chairs of the SPC, Joe Sullivan and Lou Stutzke.
“The bill is intended to shift the operation of the reservoir from downstream flood beneficiaries onto the people who live around the lake and local communities,” Sullivan said. “We will be constantly battling things like this and they’re going to pop up from time to time and it’s very important that an organization like the SPC is here and continues after I go and we stay involved as a community.”
The lake — initially known as the Sacandaga Reservoir — was created in the 1920s due to flooding in Albany. Therefore, the lake was created to control the waters of the upper Hudson River and preventing floods going to downstream communities like Albany and Troy. According to the release, its existence has allowed billions of dollars worth of property to be constructed on the Hudson’s 100-year floodplain.
For the last five years, downstream beneficiaries have been paying for the flood control benefit. These five downstream counties include Albany, Saratoga, Warren, Washington and Rensselaer Counties.
According to the release, the total value of non-state property on the 100-year floodplain in the five counties is $3.2 billion. For flooded protection, the total annual assessment is $2,993,725. Albany pays $1,034,569; Rensselaer pays $542,379; Saratoga pays $1,035,679; Warren pays $242,878; and Washington pays $138,220.
Sullivan said those five counties pay for the flood control because they benefit from it and they don’t want to pay the bill, therefore they are looking for someone else to pay for it.
“They want to shift the cost from them to us,” Sullivan said. “We don’t want that because we’re not the true beneficiaries.”
The SPC was formed in 2009 when the state tried to take away their rights as permit holders.
“As a community we initially raised well over $150,000 and hired lawyers to challenge the new rules,” Sullivan said. “Through our collective voices Albany heard us loud and clear.”
If the bill is signed by the governor, permit holders of the Sacandaga Lake could be required to help pay for the lake’s operation and maintenance which could cause an increase in permit fees.
“Shifting the burden of paying for the [lake’s] operations from the true recipients of the benefit flood control down in Albany and shifting it on to the back of the permit holders in a surrounding community is just a bad idea,” Sullivan said.