Fulton city lawmakers Tuesday decided to keep moving forward with plans to take land from the town of Granby over the town’s objections.
The land is the site of the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. It’s fairly rare for one government to pay taxes to another, but because the city’s plant is in Granby, city taxpayers pay nearly $116,000 a year in county, town, school, fire district and highway district taxes. Taxes are going up next year because the state has raised the value of the plant and land by $900,000. Annexation would eliminate all of that spending.
Town residents scolded the city at a recent public hearing, saying that the city simply wanted a way to keep on spending too much money. One resident told city leaders they should work their own problems out without hurting the town. Granby Supervisor Ed Williamson said he asked the state to reduce the assessment on the plant, but the state refused.
Mayor Ron Woodward has argued that lowering the cost of operating the plant will help attract industry to the city because the cost of water and sewer services is a large expense.
The city and town have each hired lawyers and the process is underway.
Fulton’s hopes rest on a novel interpretation of the rules governing annexation. Land being annexed generally has to share a border with the community doing the annexing. The city is using its Indian Point Park as the land bordering the treatment plant’s property. The two properties sit across the Oswego River from each other. The land beneath the river belongs to the state.
Tuesday, lawmakers approved an environmental impact statement on the annexation. The city’s outside lawyer, John Allen of Bond, Schoeneck and King, said there would be no change to the environment from the annexation. “All that is happening here is the change of address,” he said. “Exactly the same operations before as after.”
After that, lawmakers approved a petition to the state to allow the annexation. Allen said the impact on taxpayers in the town and school district would be minimal, about $7.50 on the tax bill of the average home.
Now the battle begins. The state can allow the annexation over the objections of the town, as it did years ago when the land where River Glen Plaza sits was annexed into the city over the objections of the town of Volney.
A court decided the annexation case then and is likely to do so this time as well.