The Hudson River-Black River Regulating District may have resolved its dire financial situation.
Last week, a state appeals court upheld the district's plan to bill five counties for flood-control benefits. The counties - Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren and Washington - are downstream of the Great Sacandaga Lake, which the regulating district controls to prevent flooding along the Hudson River. The court also ordered the district to bill the state, which owns land along the river and benefits from the regulating district's flood-control operations.
The plan will bring in millions of dollars in revenue for the regulating district each year, and that revenue is essential. The district has been struggling to pay its property taxes to municipalities and school districts in Fulton and Hamilton counties because of a lack of money.
The regulating district lost a significant revenue source after a court ruled in 2008 the district no longer could charge fees to downstream hydropower companies. Since then, the district has faced lawsuits for nonpayment of property taxes.
The latest appeals court ruling should bring a sense of relief to the regulating district and the localities and school districts around the Great Sacandaga Lake. We hope the ruling stands.
Without the ability to charge downstream counties and the state, the regulating district has no reasonable alternatives.