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Sewer rates for Glove Cities to rise

Gloversville-Johnstown WastewaterTreatment Facility Manager Wallace Arnold addresses local and state officials prior to a plant tour Friday. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Sewer rates for residents of the Glove Cities are expected to increase by a considerable 11 percent for 2021-22 — mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s COVID,” plant Manager Wallace Arnold said today. “Its really affected the local businesses.”

Arnold said he thought the residential use would also peak during COVID, but hasn’t.

“They went down [in usage] too,” he said.

Annual sewer rates since the 1990s have typically either stayed level or only risen only about 1 to 3 percent.

Arnold, who has been associated with the sewer plant for two decades, said he’s never seen the rates have to be raised this high. He said sewer plant expenses keep going up due to COVID and they’re not meeting revenues.

The Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Sewer Board reviewed the proposed rate schedule at its recent meeting at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Fiscal Officer Donna Renda indicated proposed residential sewer rates for 2021-22 are expected to be up by 11.1 percent. Industrial sewer rates are slated to rise by 6 percent based on usage, she said.

Renda couldn’t be reached Wednesday for comment about the rate hikes.

All rates will be presented for a public hearing set for 6 p.m. Wednesday in the sewage treatment plant’s boardroom. If approved that night, rates would be effective May 1.

The city of Gloversville is current on bond closeouts at this time. The city of Johnstown needs to complete accounting from the facility’s 2008 upgrade project and 2015 CAST project.

In other business, Arnold reported a compressor sent out for repairs in February and returned April 12 was run for an hour before the bearings overheated.

Howden Roots LLC completed service on a blower, including cleaning and checking bearings and sensors.

Arnold reported UV disinfection site repair work accomplished by CFI Contracting Inc. was inspected, with all repairs found to be satisfactory.

Sewer bill protests from 48 Fourth Ave. and 35 E. State St., both in Gloversville, were denied by the board. But a sewer bill protest from 7 E. Eighth Ave., Gloversville, resulted in a credit of $90.83. The adjustment was requested for excess water usage. Arnold conducted an inspection and found the water involved didn’t enter the sewer system to be treated.

O&M purchase orders and disbursements totaling $192,276 were approved for payment. Capital disbursement sheets totaling $68,000 were approved.

Sewer board legal counsel reviewed the facility’s Communicable Disease Disaster Emergency Plan. Clarification was offered regarding the plan’s provision for paid sick leave to employees subjected to mandatory quarantine. A section of the policy will be modified to include the counsel’s comments on paid sick leave.

Counsel also reviewed an amendment to National Grid’s power purchase agreement with the facility. Counsel approved of the agreement, noting one substantive change, a deletion of the current term and substitution of a term through April 30, 2022.

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