Sewer Rates To Triple For Ontario Heights

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego Common Council voted 6-0 Monday night to triple the rate to be charged to the Town of Oswego for sewer usage by residents in the Ontario Heights Sewer District.

Councilor Mike Myers wasn’t at the meeting.

As of Jan. 1, the residents will pay $13.50 per 1,000 gallons of water usage.

The sewer use agreement between the city and town for the Ontario Heights district expired on Oct. 15, 2007.

Under the previous pact, residents paid $4.50 per 1,000 gallons.

Sewage from Ontario Heights is treated at the city’s west side water treatment plant.

City officials say it is necessary to increase the capacity of the plant in order to adequately treat sewage from the west side of the city, SUNY Oswego and the Ontario Heights Sewer District.

The town has refused to enter into a new sewer use deal and pay its proportionate share of the cost of making repairs and capital improvements to the water treatment plant to accommodate all of the sewage.

“We thought we had terms, typed up an agreement and council passed it. But the (town) supervisor refused to sign it,” Mayor Randy Bateman said.

The sticking point was having the town pay its proportionate share of the cost of the plant, he said.

“The city and town had come to agreement on the rates for the Ontario Heights sewer fees. However, when the agreement was passed by the city council and sent to us for our signature there were items in the agreement that the town from day one did not agree on,” according to Vicky Mullen, Oswego Town Supervisor.

In the agreement the city sent, it states that the town would abide by any resolution that the city council passed in the future regarding sewage, Mullen said, adding, “We would never agree to something like that! ”

The second roadblock in the proposal was that the town would pay a proportion of the upgrades required to be made to the west side sewage treatment plant, the supervisor said.

“As we all knew the DEC and EPA and Department of Justice are in negotiations on a consent order for the city to separate their sewage from their storm water,” Mullen said. “And, the price will be in the 10s of millions of dollars. (I think it is 45 million). Ontario Heights’ sewage and storm water are separated and do not contribute to the problem.”

“The town has no problem with its residents, who use the sewage treatment plant, paying the same amount as other users, be it the city, another town, or the state university. That is fair,” Mullen said.

“We’ve been going back and forth for quite a while,” the mayor said.

City officials decided to throw out the old pact, and then put forth a resolution to have the Ontario Heights residents pay the rates set by the council until a new sewer use deal can be agreed on.

“That’s what they did tonight. It’s the same as for city residents,” the mayor said.

The council recently voted to triple the sewer fees paid by city residents.

“We are happy to sit down with the council and talk. Mayor Bateman and I have known each other for years and I hope that the town and the city can return to a more harmonious relationship that has been missing these last two years,” Mullen said.