Sewer Rent Unfair?
Sewer Rent Unfair?
I read in total bitterness about the 81 condo units slated to be constructed at the former Bulova Watchcase factory site. Why, you may ask? Simply put, I am totally disgusted and angered about the way the village trustees have handled the sewer rate structure.
It is appalling that in 2001 when I purchased the Sag Harbor Launderette the sewer rent was $438.00 per year. The village trustees though, under the regime of Bill Young, saw fit to "change" the system and place the burden on a dozen businesses in the village. As of 2006, I now am charged $27, 917.00 each year, for the SAME service that I had in 2001. Let me repeat that; my sewer rent was obscenely increased from $438.00 to $27,917.00.
In 2001, the village hired a consultant who said every business and home should be allocated a "unit" based upon the amount of water they use. Well, this seems fair until you look closer. The village assigned a house or condo one "unit" and that house or condo will pay $175.00 per year for sewer rent.
The village further states that the Sag Harbor Launderette will be assigned twenty-two and one third "units" because of their water volume. Well again, this seems fair as the launderette uses a great deal of water. However, here is the catch. For some reason, the village trustees adopted the idea that a unit of waste water, which they agree is the same whether it comes from a business or a commercial entity, should have two distinct dollar values assigned to it.
That is right, two separate charges for the same exact type of treatment and the same volume treated. A house will pay $175.00 per unit while the launderette will pay $1250.00 per unit.
In other words, it is like the grocery store charging one person $1.00 for a loaf of bread while charging someone else $64.00 for the SAME bread. That is exactly what the village is doing right now.
So, when the condos are constructed, their sewer rent will be $14,175; that will be for the entire EIGHTY-ONE condos. The Launderette will pay DOUBLE that amount — $27,917.00 — for one little store. Based upon the current village trustees calculations, the entire condo complex will put 4050 ccf of waste water into the plant each year. The launderette puts about 2750 ccf into the plant each year (A ccf is 748 gallons).
So if you follow their logic, the launderette, who uses one third LESS water, will have to pay DOUBLE the sewer rent than the ENTIRE condo complex. Wait, it gets better!
I was told by a village trustee to bite the bullet. My response was this: I take a cut of $28,000 from my salary each year now to pay the sewer rent bill. This leaves me $22,000 as my gross salary. Are you or anyone else willing to do this or for that matter, why should I? It is immoral for a municipality to come into a man's business and impact his livelihood to this massive, unjust extent.
The Sag Harbor Launderette is a small business not a large corporation; where do you expect this $28,000.00 per year to come from? Should I charge every single drop-off customer an extra $6.00 per load, every time they come? Is this passing on to the customer fair? NO WAY will I participate in the village's notion of "overcharging" based upon a whim.
Wait, maybe I will charge the village residents more money, after all, I am told that they are rich. Or, do I charge the tourists more; they have an expendable income. I have it, I will charge the 5000 drop-off customers $6.00 per load which will make an extra $30,000.00 per year. Wait, I cannot do that; then I will join the ranks of the immoral, unjust, insensitive and irrational. Perhaps I can raise the price of the machines $2.00 each. The local residents really do not mind, do they?
After all, who really needs a launderette in this quaint village? Think about it, without the launderette, the other businesses in the village will be forced to pay ONLY the $28,000.00 in sewer rent that the village trustees misappropriate from the launderette each year.
Well that should not be a problem; those other business owners will have to take the wise suggestion of our village trustee and bite the bullet. It is not enough that most business owners in this village have put their blood, sweat and tears into their businesses, but now they will be forced to pay more using their own take home pay.
Well, anyway, we can get rid of the launderette, put in a parking lot and build more condos. That would not be a burden on the community, would it? Well, let's see. The village trustees issued a report that states the sewer rents will decrease with condo growth. Oh, I guess it was acceptable then for them to charge me since 2001 over $116,000.00 in excess sewer rents — yes, $116,000.00 in fees they deem acceptable for a small business owner to "absorb." This is not unfair, is it?
So, after the $116,000.00 that I GAVE the village, plus over $9,000.00 in interest plus costs, the village is now saying that the rates MAY go down only when the new condos come on line. This does not seem equitable does it?
So I guess I am supposed to tell my daughters that there is no money for college, but be proud of the fact that the village has $125,000.00 of Joseph Comber's hard earned money with no intention of doing what is morally and ethically correct, and after all, Dad bit the bullet, so the village could prosper, and personal agendas could be satisfied at my expense.
I am embarrassed that I live and work in a community that allows a municipality to create arbitrary and capricious laws that severely prevent a man from supporting his family. I am not so sure it is the sewer that stinks here in the Village of Sag Harbor.
What are your thoughts? What does your logic dictate? More important, what as a community will you do to correct this injustice and prevent the same from happening to your homes and businesses?
Editor's Note: This sewer business stinks.
MARGARET & JOSEPH COMBER
November 21, 2006