As they say in the lottery, you have to pay in order to play. This is also true when it comes to maintaining the infrastructure of a municipality. In order to make it attractive to potential businesses, investors and residents, you have to pay.
Recently, the town of Elizabethtown held a public forum on the creation of its sewer system. Supervisor Margaret “Maggie” Bartley has stated that she feels a municipal wastewater facility is needed in order to bring new businesses to the area, using the examples of a car wash or a laundry mat.
According to the information given at the meeting, a new sewer system would come with a price tag of around $364 annually for a typical one-family home located in the new district.
We believe that improving the infrastructure of a community is crucial in attracting business and residents, and we applaud voters of the proposed sewer district for having the forward thinking to approve this project when it went to vote in July 2010.
Elizabethtown is a town that many commute to for work at the county offices or school, and would be an ideal place for a car wash or laundry mat, along with an expanded offering of other services, like food and recreation.
It’s like the phrase from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.” And if they come, the $364 is going to go down as an increase of system users and an increase of tax base will lessen the burden on everyone.
We urge residents to approve easements on their properties to help make the $9.5 million system a reality.
Along with the development of infrastructure, there is also the price that comes to keep infrastructure maintained. You can either be proactive about it or wait to pay the piper.
In Westport, the town is paying for numerous infractions at the town highway garage, which was described by town supervisor Daniel Connell as a facility that is obsolete even if it is brought into compliance with state regulations. Town officials are also looking to renovate their current home, known as the WADA Building, and members of the fire department continue to work in what they describe as an obsolete building.
Voters balked at a proposed multi-use facility last summer, and the trickle of violations at these run down, obsolete facilties will cost thousands in repairs and fines. This tidal wave of expenses is already starting to be felt. Instead of being proactive when it came to the chance to update infrastructure, the voters of the town chose instead to delay the inevitable in the hopes that a cheaper alternative could be found.
The lack of forward thinking by these voters is now going to cost even more in the long run, while community needs remain unmet. We are urging Elizabethtown voters to not make the same mistake.
A highly functioning infrastructure also helps with the image of a town and the self esteem of its residents. People can take pride in the fact that they have resources that work and provide an avenue for improvement, instead of always hearing about Department of Environmental Conservation Consent Orders that come with lofty fines.
At the same time, there are also cases in which too much infrastructure was put in place, and redundancy exists. For example, Keeseville is considering dissolving its village government and merging it with the towns of Chesterfield and Ausable.
If such a consolidation can save taxpayers the cost of occupying a village hall or village highway garage, than it is certainly worth exploring.
That savings can then be reinvested in the remaining infrastructure, ensuring the two towns do not find themselves in a situation like Westport.
Ultimately it is up to town leaders to have the foresight to offer plans that will benefit the community in the most cost effective way to taxpayers for years to come.
That’s what is on the drawing table in Elizabethtown. Without it, our municipalities will continue to dwindle in numbers as businesses evaporate forcing residents to seek employment elsewhere.