NEW YORK STATE -- The Hudson River-Black River Regulating District says it's expected to raise assessments for beneficiaries on the Black River side. But it's why those assessments are going up that has one state Assemblyman furious.
Ken Blankenbush says the agency that controls the reservoirs and dams in the district took $3 million out of the fund balance from the Black River side to help the Hudson River side pay back taxes. And as of yet, because of legal issues involving its area counties, the Hudson River side has not been able to pay that money back.
Because the Black River fund balance is now depleteted, regulating district officials say the assessments for municipalities in five counties, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Herkimer and Hamilton, will increase by 36 percent over the next three years.
Blankenbush says the purpose the fund balance is to stabilize assessments and now people will be unfairly punished. He will now push the governor's office to split the two sides up and make them independent of each other.
"The bottom line is, in municipalities, who pays the bill? The taxpayer pays the bill. My big problem with the increase in 36 percent is that it's not because of infrastructure. It's not because of having to do repairs. It's not because of any of that. It's because a misuse of funds over in the Hudson Valley section," Blankenbush said.
Officials from the regulating district say they were forced to dip into the Black River Fund to comply with the court order to pay the back taxes. But Executive Director Mike Clark says a recent court decision on that lawsuit will finally allow the district to collect $13 million in assessment money from the Hudson River side this September. He says the Black River side will then be repaid every cent, including interest and lost interest.
He says, at that point, it's also likely the board will take a look at reducing the assessment rates.