Finger pointing, lawsuits continue over Macedon Sewer Treatment Plant
The Village and Town of Macedon officials are killing a lot of trees lately trading letters, injunctions, lawsuits, and veiled threats, over the issue of the Village Sewer Treatment plant.
The Macedon Town Board, back in September, claimed that, after numerous attempts to get the Village to sign and acknowledge an Intermunicipal Agreement for Sewage Treatment, the village did not respond. The town alleged that the Village failed to complete their obligations by not documenting the ownership interest of the town.
Since the Agreement was due to expire on December 31, 2012, the Town filed suit against the Village and noted that the Town may not be able to pay the remaining payments on the bond until the Intermunicipal Agreement is signed.
The Town and Village entered into the agreement, as they have a shared usage. The Town contracts for the Transmission and Treatment of Sewage for Town Sewer District #1 and #2 and extension of these districts. An expansion of the Sewer Plant was necessary in 1989, and the contract was written, so that the Town and Village would share the cost of the expansion. The town’s investment into the joint project was $1.5 million of taxpayer money.
In December, following an impasse on the Notice of Claim against the Village by the Town, emails from the village to the town, noted that there could be an interim agreement, leading to a long term agreement, if the Town would drop their claim.
In a statement from Mayor Marie Cramer on Friday, she declared:
“The Village had already agreed to continue to treat the sewage from outside the Village on the same terms as it has been for the last twenty years if the Town would withdraw its Notice of Claim filed against the Village and continue to pay for that sewer service. The Town said it has no intention of paying unless there is a long term agreement in place. In a December 4, 2012 letter and a December 17, 2012 email, the Village’s attorney said that the December 4 letter could constitute an interim intermunicipal agreement for the next year while a long term agreement could be worked out by the Village and Town. The Village Board adopted it as an interim agreement at a December 12, 2012 meeting.
The Town refused to accept the December 4, 2012 letter as the interim agreement because the Town was not willing to withdraw its Notice of Claim. The Town’s attorney then claimed that because there was no interim or long term agreement in place the Town would not pay for sewer service for sewage emanating from outside the Village. The Village then said if the Town does not pay then the Village has no obligation to treat the sewage from outside the Village.
The whole matter could have been dealt with by the Town withdrawing its Claim against the Village and then working with the Village on a long term agreement to replace the agreement that expired December 15, 2012.”
Town Supervisor Bill Hammond has reported that the board posted on the Town website a copy of a lawsuit against the village and a copy of an injunction to keep the Village from preventing sewer treatment for out of village residents.
The Town Board also will mail a letter to residents of the Town affected by any action the village may take to cease sewer treatment.
The letter reads in part:
“…Prior to 1973, the Village of Macedon had historically provided sewer service to the Town of Macedon acting on behalf of its town sewer districts. At that time, the Village and Town acted together to upgrade and expand the existing facilities…
…the Village gave the Town a vested interest in the plant and, in return, the Town contributed to this major expansion which, to date, with principal and interest has cost $2,487,830…”
The contract called for the Village to continue operation of the plant until the bond issue was paid. The last payment on this bond issue was scheduled and made in December 2012.
Rather than celebrate the end of debt, the Town received a letter from the Village attorneys stating that the Village did not recognize the continued vested interest of the town. In an effort to spare hardship to innocent Town and Village users, the town offered to extend the 25-year contract for a sufficient period for the parties to resolve any disputes.
Unfortunately, this was denied by the Village who demanded that any agreement to provide sewer treatment outside the village was conditioned on the Town withdrawing and giving a release for any claims pursuant to the 1989 agreement. This would essentially mean that the Town was being asked to walk away from that portion of the $2,487,830, most of which was paid for by town residents, many of whom never received any sewer service.
The Town refused this unfair offer, but now the Village has notified the Town in e-mails dated December 18 and 19,2012 that the Village will not treat any Town sewerage after January 1, 2013. We do not know if the Village has notified any users of this arbitrary and unilateral intent.
Upon receipt of this notice of intent from the Village, the Town Board met in emergency session on December 21,2012 where the Town Board authorized its attorneys to bring such legal actions as may be deemed necessary or proper to protect the interests of the town and its taxpayers…
One part of these actions will be an application to State Supreme Court applying for an Order restraining and prohibiting such action by the village. The Town will also contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to begin a process of turning the operating licenses for the plant from the Village to the Town.
…please be assured that the Town will take all appropriate actions to enjoin such action which -we believe threatens the health, safety and welfare of all inhabitants of the Town, both inside and outside the Village. Since this Village action also threatens your right to the quiet enjoyment of your property, we are alerting you of this intended Village action to give you some minimal advanced notice of the Village’s stated intent.
…The timing of this Village ultimatum is both unreasonably short and unfortunate. Copies of the Town Board resolution instructing the town attorneys to bring suit, as well as copies of the underlying contracts, comptroller opinions and notice of termination of services by the village’s representatives are available for inspection at the office of the Town Clerk, 32 Main St., Macedon, and will be posted shortly on the Town website at www.macedontown.net.”
The Town Board stated in their lawsuit against the Village, dated December 26, 2012, that the contract was to remain in effect during the term of the bond issue incurred by the Town of Macedon, and, the parties substantially complied with the terms and conditions of the contract without objection or notice of dispute from either party, and bond issue was fully paid in December, 2012, in anticipation of such contract expiration.
They noted that letters were written by the Town attorney dated July 5, 2012 and August 10, 2012 advising of the impending expiration of the 1989 contract and the need to negotiate joint operation going forward, but the village attorneys wrote a letter dated November 16, 2012 stating that the village would enter into an interim agreement to continue service while the Town and Village negotiated a long term agreement resolving any differences under the contract. The town responded with a letter, to which they said the attorneys for the village stated, for the first time, that the plant was “an asset of the village”, that participation consistent with the town’s vested interest would not be allowed, and that the village would only negotiate a contract to provide sewer service to the town district residents after the expiration of the contract if the town would withdraw its claims of ownership and give the village a general release for said claims.
That letter was rejected by the Town Board as they believed that they could abandon its claims to that part of the $2, 487,830 total dollars spent on the plant expansion, most of which came from town residents, for a one year interim service contract.
Email correspondence ensued between the two entities. The final email received by the town on December 19th stated that, in the absence of continued payment by the town to the village, the village would discontinue providing waste treatment services after January 1, 2013.
“Said e-mails do not make clear whether the village threatens to deny access to the plant or simply not treat the waste,” stated the Town’s lawsuit.
The Town Attorney, Tony Villani, responded that the Town could not legally make any payments to anyone in the absence of a contract and that the Village’s condition to release the town’s claims set impossible conditions. In an effort to protect the health safety and welfare of all residents of the town, the town was willing to agree to continued village operation of the plant and the expenses associated therewith by extending the 1989 contract until this matter could be resolve either through negotiation or litigation.
With that offer refused by the village, and the unilateral termination of such sewer services, the town attorneys were directed to prepare the lawsuit and filed for an injunction prohibiting any actions by the village of Macedon involving either the denial of access of town district waste to the sewer plant or the failure to treat such waste prior to discharge into the waters of the state of New York.
The stand-off continues.