Village of Webster makes decision on future of sewer treatment plant
The Village will continue maintaining its own sewer system
Webster, NY - It took some time, but residents finally have their answer regarding the future of the Village’s sewer treatment plant. The Webster Village Board made its final decision on whether or not to consolidate its sewer system with that of the Town of Webster. On July 13, the Village Board majority voted “nay” to sewer consolidation in a 3-2 vote.
The Village of Webster has been debating whether or not to combine its sewer treatment plant facility with that of the Town of Webster―to create one consolidated system―since 2016.
Engineering studies have been conducted over the last few years to examine the current structures, operations, and equipment of both the Town and Village wastewater treatment plants, as well as to project the possible benefits of consolidating both plants to create one regional plant.
With the Town of Webster supporting the consolidation option, the Village of Webster was on the fence about whether it would be more cost-efficient in the long run for the Village to maintain its own plant or to consolidate with the Town.
The consolidation option was on the table because it would have potentially helped the Village pay off some of its debt. However, the numbers and costs to Village residents under consolidation were unknown, making the decision more challenging in determining which option was more cost-effective long-term.
In anticipation of the vote at the July 13 Village Board meeting, residents took to the podium in a final plea to the VIllage Board to vote against consolidation.
Resident Susan Buckman expressed her love for the Village of Webster and all things quaint and charming that, in her eyes, make the village “the village.” She believed that a vote for consolidation would be the beginning of the end of the village she has grown to love so much.
Kevin Florack also voiced opposition to consolidation, saying that it could result in an empty Village Sewer Department, which would be an “eyesore” for the people who “deserved much better,” he said.
Former Webster Town Supervisor Ron Nesbitt, although not a village resident, was also in attendance. He expressed his concern with the $11 million price increase in the consolidation project’s projection.
Village resident Lori Reynolds said she believes the Village would be handing over its control to the Town, and that a vote for this may cause her to “lose faith in [her] village.”
These thoughts and concerns against consolidation expressed by residents were finally put to rest when the Village Board majority voted “no” to a consolidated sewer treatment plant. The vote was met by applause.
Webster Online reached out to Webster Town Supervisor Tom Flaherty for comment on the Village Board’s decision.
"I respect the Village Board of Trustees’ decision,” said Supervisor Flaherty. “That is their prerogative as the leaders of the Village government within their representation of the village's 5,000 citizens and businesses. My opinion is that a consolidated-community sewer system in the 35 square miles of Webster would be the best option for the 47,000 citizens and businesses today and for the next 20-30 years."
Village Mayor Darrell Byerts wrote the following in a letter that ran on the front page of the Webster Herald last week:
“The Village’s 2020-2021 sewer rate of $150 per EDU only covered the treatment and collection of sewage, leaving the Village without any money set aside in the event of an emergency. In an effort to build up reserves for future projects and repairs, the Village rate increased to $195 this year; however, that additional revenue must be used to settle the debt the Sewer Fund owes to the General Fund, for the digester repair made several years ago.
When the Village begins planned renovations and upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant, there will again be a small increase in the sewer charge per EDU. This increase will provide for ongoing maintenance and operation of our sewer system, the yearly cost of current and future debt, and building reserves for future needs with EDU leveling. We do not expect an increase to take place until the 2024 or 2025 fiscal year.”