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Village Water

Village of Lansing Trustees voted Monday to increase water rates to $8.11 per thousand gallons.  The increase reflects rises in both the payment to Southern Cayuga Lake Intermunicipal Water Commission (Bolton Point) and to the Village itself.  Deputy Mayor Ronny Hardaway said that water lines in the Village are failing at an increasingly greater rate and funds need to be put aside to repair and replace them.

"John (Superintendent of Public Works John Courtney) and his crew have noticed within the last couple of years that we are getting more and more line breaks where the water lines are very old," Hardaway said. "A lot of them are reaching the end of their life cycle and we're going to have to continue with those repairs as they happen and also plan for replacing the water lines in areas before you have a complete failure of that line. So that was why he suggested that we raise it a little bit and I think it's good planning. It's good for the village and it'll be good for our citizens."

Water rates are split between Bolton Point and the municipalities, which determine the amount they add to the water commission fee.   Bolton Point is raising its portion from $5.16 per thousand gallons of water to $5.41.  The Village, which has been collecting 40% of that rate, has raised it to 50%, from $2.06 per thousand gallons to $7.22.  Water customers are charged a minimum of 5,000 gallons per quarter, even if they use less water.  That minimum used to be 10,000 gallons, but was halved in 2018.  Water usage above the minimum will be billed at the total water commission/village rate of $8.11 per thousand gallons.

"That's a fairly dramatic change in percentages, but the overall amount of money per household is not extreme," Hardaway said.

The Town of Lansing also struggles with aging water infrastructure.  Last December the Town Board approved a new $111,600 water district extension at Terpening Corners (the Crossroads Bar & Grill, Lansing Market, and Mirabito gas station area) that will act as a bypass in the event of a water main break in the old infrastructure at that location.  Repairs and improvements to water mains is paid for by water customers, not property taxes.

While Bolton Point is responsible for delivering the water, municipalities are responsible for the infrastructure.  Water rates typically include funds for infrastructure maintenance.  Hardaway said the increase in the Village portion will bolster the reserve funds that pay those infrastructure costs.

"It follows the model that the Village has used for decades, which is a good model of actually planning for work, saving for it and then following through," he said. "And we always have an emergency fund also. We just want to have a little cushion to help us with planning those rather than hit everyone with a high increase later on to cover costs we've already incurred. That's just not been our model. So this is just raising it slightly, potentially at some point where we've got what we think is enough money to cover all of our projects and to have a cushion for emergencies."

With Mayor Donald Hartill and Trustee Pat O'Roark traveling, Trustee John O'Neill questioned whether the remaining three Trustees should raise the rate, despite the fact that a quorum was present at Monday's meeting.  But Hardaway pointed out the two had been present at the Board's last meeting and had spoken in favor of the price rise.  The remaining three voted unanimously to approve the new rate.

Trustees also approved a sewer rate hike Monday.  Village sewer users pays must pay for sewer treatment in Cayuga Heights.  The Cayuga Heights sewer treatment plant is raising its fee from $4.14 to $4.35 per thousand gallons.  The Village levies a 25% surcharge on the sewer rate, so that is increasing by $0.06 per thousand gallons.  Under the new fees a quarterly charge for the 5,000 gallon minimum would come to $40.55 for water, and $28.50 for sewer for a total of $69.05.  The current total is $63.25 for the 5,000 gallon minimum.

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