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Source: Newsday

Northport OKs loan for treatment plant


Posted: May 12, 2011
Originally Published: May 11, 2011

Northport village officials voted this week to apply for $9 million in financing to upgrade the village's wastewater treatment plant, as it attempts to meet a state deadline to reduce the plant's nitrogen emission into Northport Harbor.

Mayor George Doll said the application, to the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, a public financing corporation, for $9,030,000, helps keep their options open.

"This does not mean we're going to borrow $9 million. It just means the money is available to us if we need it," Doll said at Tuesday's board meeting.

The village is under pressure from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to meet a 2014 deadline to reduce the amount of nitrogen emitted from the plant into Northport Harbor. Nitrogen, a pollutant, comes from several sources -- including the plant -- and has contributed to seasonal toxic algal blooms in the harbor.

If the village doesn't meet the deadline, it could face fines of about $36,000 for each day it is out of compliance, Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin said.

Tobin said the existing facility can't be upgraded enough to meet the 2014 goal, so the village is working with the DEC on other ways to reduce nitrogen. One option discussed was taking some customers off the sewer system.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment and co-chairwoman of the Northport Harbor Water Quality Protection Committee, applauded the move.

"We know the village is concerned about funding, but we also know the public is concerned about the water quality in the bay," Esposito said. "We need the village to be good stewards of the water and we're very encouraged by their recent actions."

Tobin and other village officials expressed concern about borrowing the money, a move that could potentially push the tax rate up anywhere from a few percentage points to 10 percent.

"I'm very concerned that there will be a number of property owners for whom the burden will be just too high," Tobin said. "So we're not celebrating our agreement. It just allows us to move on and continue the work of trying to find better ways to reduce nitrogen and to finance the plan."