Cities seek formal sewer data requests
JOHNSTOWN – The Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Sewer Board decided Wednesday the sewer plant will not release any more information to Fulton County’s “SMART Waters” system consultant without permission of both cities’ common councils and mayors.
Gloversville 6th Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski – a member of the sewer board – made a motion to that effect at the board’s monthly meeting at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility.
“I know Gloversville is vehement about not giving any information out at this time,” he said.
The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on July 8 hired Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton Park, Saratoga County, for $50,000 to design a system to possibly consolidate all water and sewer services within the county.
Many county officials believe a countywide system will spur the local economy, creating more business and lowering property taxes.
Siarkowski’s motion came after plant Wastewater Engineer Tyler Masick noted he received a July 15 letter from Board of Supervisors Chairman William Waldron regarding the so-called “SMART Waters” system that’s proposed.
“The letter is just notifying the sewer board the county is starting the study,” plant consultant George Bevington said.
Bevington said the plant provided information two weeks ago requested by the company. Bevington said he and Masick were interviewed about the sewage treatment plant’s budget, flows and rates to customers.
Both Gloversville 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth and Johnstown 3rd Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin – who were at the meeting – told the board their cities’ response to the county study is they are “not answering” questions.
“This is certainly news to us,” Bevington said.
Wentworth said it has been stated publicly neither city is “in agreement” at this time with what the county is doing.
Bevington said the “general operations” information requested was about the plant’s public budget, rate schedule and from the annual report, which are on the plant’s website. He said there’s “nothing else further scheduled” with interviews, adding he was unaware the sewer plant was “not supposed to have a dialogue” with the county consultant.
Sewer board member Kevin Jones – director of the Gloversville Department of Public Works – said the consultant was told by his city to file state Freedom of Information Law requests with the City Clerk’s Office. Jones said that’s also a “reasonable” process for the sewer plant to follow.
Officials from the Glove Cities have been skeptical this year about a countywide water and sewer system. Some officials say the individual systems work fine now and they may lose control of their water and sewer systems under the county plan. They also fear the state may get involved in setting future water and sewer rates. Other concerns include having city taxpayers pay twice – for a city system and county system.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com