City to borrow $5 million for sewer system upgrades

The common council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution at Tuesday’s special meeting which authorizes the city to borrow $5 million to upgrade city sewer pump stations and sewer lines. The project is necessary to comply with an order from New York State to reduce the inflow of rain and ground water into the sewage system. The reduction of inflow is necessary in order to prevent the overflow of sewage into the Mohawk River during periods of heavy rain. Council members plan to re-approve the resolution at the next regular meeting on March 1 because a prerequisite resolution, required under the State Environmental Review Act (SEQRA) , stating there are no environmental concerns, had not yet been passed.

Doug Cole, of John M. McDonald Engineering, a firm assisting with the State Environmental Review Act (SEQRA) review, said that the project will involve repairing or replacing approximately 17,000 feet of sewer piping. The project will also include replacing a decades-old pump and backup generator at the sewer station on the east end of the city, as well as improvements at the other two stations in the west end and south side. Cole said that failure of either the pump or backup generator on the east side during a power outage could also cause an overflow of sewage into the river.  Cole said he expects the project to bring the city into compliance with the state order and estimated  work on the project will begin in 2017.

According to Urban Renewal Agency Director Nick Zabawsky, the city will look to offset some of the cost of the project by applying for a grant from the state, which could amount to as much as $1.25 million. Zabawsky said the city will be able to take advantage of a zero-interest financing from the state for the remainder of the project. However, Zabawkly said the city may have to issue a bond anticipation notice (BAN) to cover the project costs initially before rolling it over to a zero-interest, long-term bond. Controller Matt Agresta declined to quote exactly how much repayment on the project would cost the city on a yearly basis until the final amount of the financing was determined.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.