Legislation was introduced in the New York State Assembly on May 14, 2014 (Bill A09650) that would abolish the Hudson River Black River Regulating District (HRBRRD) and transfer their responsibilities to the New York State Power Authority. The Sacandaga Protection Committee (SPC) opposes this legislation.
This proposed legislation is a financial ploy to transfer funding responsibilities from the “Five Counties”- beneficiaries of the flood control provided the HRBRRD, to the rate payers of the NYS Power Authority who are not beneficiaries of such protection. The responsibility of the Power Authority is the generation and distribution of electric power - not flood control. The legislation would prohibit any Counties from liability for tax payments and assessments.
The simple fact remains that the operating budget of the HRBRRD has been trimmed substantially over the past few years and a new entity, such as the New York Power Authority, would require a similar operating budget. During its existence, HRBRRD was successful in assessing most of its operating budget to the downstream power producers. However, recent federal court decisions have significantly reduced the amount those power producers are required to pay. The downstream counties, receiving substantial flood control benefits, understood the potential costs involved when the reservoir was created in the 1920’s. Due to recent court decisions, these “Five Counties” are now being required to meet their legal assessment requirements.
Over the years, the HRBRRD has had its share of issues. The current HRBRRD Board of Directors and Executive Director are all new since the proposed Permit System rule changes of 2009 (promoted by NYSDEC) that would have eliminated exclusive use of the permit lands. The SPC maintains a healthy relationship with the current HRBRRD Board and Staff as we find ourselves on the same side of several issues including the fight against Niagara Mohawk in their effort to eliminate the permit system and reduce their fees.
The HRBRRD has implemented a successful Permit System since the lake’s inception 85 years ago. Property owners around the Great Sacandaga Lake rely on this long standing HRBRRD Permit System for exclusive use of lake frontage and access otherwise known as the “buffer strip” of land around the lake. As many of you are aware the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has taken the position that the buffer strip should be open to the public. The Sacandaga Protection Committee has fought long and hard against the NYSDEC to maintain exclusive use of the buffer strip. We cannot afford the uncertainty that would be involved with eliminating the HRBRRD and transferring power to another entity with limited background and experience dealing with the permit system and issues associated with the lake community.
The Hudson River Black River Regulating District remains the Permit Holders’ best option for maintaining exclusive use of permit lands. A loss of the exclusive use provisions or the loss of the permit system would have a severe negative impact on property values around the lake and would create higher property taxes for residents of the three counties that include the lake. Avoiding this loss of property value is one of the most important goals of the SPC.
This issue is a prime example of how the SPC works on behalf of the permit holders and entire lake community. The SPC continuously monitors issues and threats to the lake community and mobilizes attorneys and lobbyists as necessary to respond to these issues. We ask that you support our efforts by sharing this information with your friends and neighbors and encourage them to support our efforts. You can make a contribution to the SPC online at www.lovethesacandaga.com. You can also join us at Lanzi's on June 8th for our annual summer fundraiser. Thank you for your support and we will keep you up to date on the latest developments associated with this latest threat to the lake community.
May 27, 2014 Update - the Times Union ran and editorial (found here) with their comments regarding the proposed legislation. The SPC issued a response to the Times Union editorial which can be found here.