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Trustee candidates question board’s decision on sewer hookup fees

A vote by the village board on sewer fees for Peconic Landing’s expansion sparked controversy Tuesday night as one trustee candidate said the village charged $720,000 less than it could have.

Peconic Landing needs the village to provide the sewer system for their expansion.

Greenport resident Bill Swiskey had issues with the agreement. “By the village’s own calculations using the information provided by Peconic Landing, the daily sewer flow from the expansion would be 13,000 gallons per day. That figure would be translated into what we call units,” he said. “If you used the village’s definition of what a unit is based on their own rate structure, it’s 130 gallons a day, The minimum charge on a sewer bill is for 4000 gallons per month. 4000 divided by 30 days = 130 GPD what = 1 unit. 130 divided into 13,000= 100 units The village’s upfront fee for hooking up a unit outside the village is set by there own sewer code at $15,000 per unit, so 100 x 15,000= $1,500,000, the he believes should have been paid to the village.

“My question is why the village board with crumbling infrastructure thinks its resident should subsidize a multi-million dollar corporation.”

Greeport Village Administrator Paul Pallas gave SoutholdLOCAL the calculations: “The $720,000 connection fee was derived using Suffolk County Department of Health data for sewage flow from each of the type of units proposed at Peconic Landing. The total derived from this is divided by a typical single family residence of 300 gallons per day (gpd) to determine an equivalent number of units. We charge $15,000 per connection for a single family residence outside the village. Therefore, the equivalent number of units is multiplied by $15,000 to determine the total connection fee. Below is the breakdown of this calculation.”

Pallas said 16 nursing home units x 150 gpd = 2400 gpd; 16 assisted living units x 110 gpd = 1760 gpd; and 46 apartments x 225 gpg = 10,350 gpd. That would mean a total of 14,510 gpd; equivalent units = 14,510 /300 = 48 equivalent units. And, he said 48 units x $15,000 = $720,000.

“Once again, Bill Swiskey is incorrect and using his own logic and math. We used the accepted and correct calculation,” Village Mayor David Nyce said.

Deputy Mayor George Hubbard, who is running for the mayor’s seat in the coming election, said the village used the county formula. Suffolk County Health Services, he said, uses different calculations for skilled nursing facilities.

No other facility on the North Fork has the density of Peconic Landing, he added.

“I think the bigger story is that we collected three quarters of a million dollars that we can invest back into the system to take care of the pump station,” Hubbard said, adding that the village did not want to borrow money or bond. The village has now upgraded the sewer plant and has three quarters of a million that they don’t have to bond or borrow for. “We’re all ratepayers,” he said. “None o us would intentionally leave three quarters of a million on the table. If we could have gotten it we would have pushed for it, but we would have been sued for overcharging. This is all based on the going rate countywide.”

Doug Roberts, who is also in the running for a trustee seat, weighed in. “The village is under no obligation to offer sewer service outside the village to any organization or entity, and the rates for such service, should we decide to offer it, are entirely negotiated between the parties. I want to work with Peconic Landing as a partner and as a neighbor, but I don’t see any reason why we’d drop our fee by over 30 percent for sewer hookup from $15,000 per unit ten years ago to approximately $9,000 per unit, especially when real estate values in Greenport have moved in the exact opposite direction. It makes no sense and it deprives Greenport of almost $500,000 in revenue it sorely needs to fix some roads and sidewalks and shore up our utility infrastructure.”

What’s even more disappointing, Roberts said, is that the board “felt no need to provide an explanation for why it was offering such a discount to Peconic Landing except a vague reference to some sort of formula that looks at average pricing for sewer systems across Suffolk County.”

Robert Syron, CEO for Peconic Landing, was not immediately available for comment.