Sunday, September 30, 2007

Central Bridge Should Get It's Shit Together!

This Tuesday, Central Bridge again voted down a plan to increase spending for a proposed municipal sewer system. The small hamlet, with an estimated population of 1,288, has been involved in a long-running debate over how to deal with a number of failing septic systems. The projects’ nearly six million dollar price tag would largely be paid for by grants (approx. 60 percent). However, voters have remained unwilling to vote in support of putting up the remaining balance. According to officials involved in the proposed sewer district, this recent “no” vote puts the entire project, including the grants in jeopardy.

From both an environmental perspective and an economic perspective it would seem to make sense to create the sewer system. In the long-run, all of Central Bridge and its surrounding area would benefit. Environmentally, failing septic systems pose numerous actual and potential threats to neighbors and groundwater supplies. Increased levels of human waste run off from a malfunctioning septic drainage field can enter groundwater supplies and contaminate local streams and watersheds. While Central Bridge is served by a municipal water system, septic systems can still contaminate the well water of neighboring communities not served by the hamlet’s reservoir. Taken individually, the impact of a failing system may be marginal. But cumulatively, the threat can become substantial.

Even still, a failing drainage field can pose threats beyond groundwater contamination. A failing system with a weeping drainage field can cause foul odors to spread to nearby neighbors.

Economically, creating a municipal system allows for the costs of dealing with sewage waste to be distributed evenly across the community. Individually, repairing a malfunctioning system can costs anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000! Not only would I rather pay 500 or 600 a year than $5,000 (at least!), but I’d rather pay the smaller amount to avoid having to endure the negative impacts of a neighbor’s failing system should they be unable to afford to fix it. Plus, if your system is failing, quick-fixes will only work for a while and you can’t sell your property until the problem is solved.

Maybe the wealthier residents can afford to lay out such sums of money to finance their own septic systems, but for people on fixed incomes, a $20,000 repair bill could potentially be devastating, while a tax, fee or rate of $500 or $600 would be a small price to pay (relatively speaking) to prevent such an event. There’s also the potential that with future development in the area, the sewer district could be expanded, potentially decreasing the costs.

Critics worry that in the future, costs may spiral out of control and there may be less invasive ways of dealing with a small amount of failing septic systems. This may be so, but septic systems that are currently failing, are not the only reason the sewer system should be built. What about the future of Central Bridge’s downtown? The Downtown area has a lot of problems, including vacant and deteriorating buildings. Currently, what are the waste removal practices in existence in Downtown Central Bridge? Surely a municipal sewer system would relieve a substantial portion of the costs of rehabbing those buildings and bringing life back into the Downtown.

In the past, residents have voted both in favor and against, so there is large degree of vacillation on this issue, with people seemingly unable to make up their mind. Of course the issue is complicated by the fact that the hamlet of Central Bridge straddles the boundary lines between the Towns of Schoharie and Esperance, with residents of each town having to vote separately. Perhaps somewhere down the road, residents of the hamlet should investigate incorporation as a city. Incorporating as a village would not really solve the problem of crossing municipal boundary lines, but becoming a “city” would make Central Bridge a separate corporate entity from the towns. This might be beneficial and it might not, but it would be interesting to look into.


Anonymous said...

How in hell would becoming a "City" change the minds of the property owners who voted against the sewer? Duh...
I can see it now: a Mayor with a personal secretary (I think I wanna be the Mayor!), 12 council persons, a treasurer, a health department, a police officer, a snow plow driver, a dog catcher... It goes on and on. We could build our own City Hall, and surely a city named "Central Bridge" could not endure without its own "Bridge Inspector"!!
Yup, Sean, you are on to something here. This will really help revitalize our economy. Please keep coming with those good ideas of yours....(I know, not fair, you only said it would be interesting to look into...I hope no-one looks to hard!)

Sean Thomas said...

Fair? Please! You have machine-gunned my idea (which even you acknowledge was just food for thought) within about an hour-and-a-half of it being posted. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you read the post immediately after it was issued and then gave it some thought before submitting your ill-conceived and personally denigrating comments to my site for public consideration.

If you have the facts necessary to refute the idea, then so be it, I will abide by them. However, you responded with nothing more than worthless sarcasm. I doubt further debate on this question will be useful to an intellect as base as your own, but lest others presume your views to have prevailed, I shall respond with a few cursory thoughts.

First off, I am not advocating that the hamlet of Central Bridge incorporate itself as a City. Merely, I have proposed the idea for serious discussion.

Some things that might change for the better if Central Bridge were a city:

Provision of Services – Yes, an incorporated city of Central Bridge would have to provide a number of services on its own (services that are currently being provided by the Towns of Schoharie and Esperance). However, under the current system Central Bridge taxpayers are paying to provide these services to residents throughout the Towns of Schoharie and Esperance. Is their a resulting economy of scale that is beneficial for Central Bridge taxpayers, or are they helping to fund large departmental budgets, only a small portion of which benefit them. I don’t have the answer to this question, but if someone does have a rational analysis of the figures involved, please share.

As for this statement:

“I can see it now: a Mayor with a personal secretary (I think I wanna be the Mayor!), 12 council persons, a treasurer, a health department, a police officer, a snow plow driver, a dog catcher... It goes on and on. We could build our own City Hall, and surely a city named "Central Bridge" could not endure without its own "Bridge Inspector"!!”

A mayor would be optional, as it could be a city manager form of government (which would be more expensive though as City Managers do not come cheap). A City Council with 12 members would be quite excessive. The majority of New York’s 62 cities have between 4-10 council members, with the exception of Albany and New York City which have 15 and 52 respectively. The City of Watervliet has only 2 people on its City Council! So I have no idea where you got the number 12 from. Of course, if CB were to incorporate as a city it could have as many council positions as the voters wanted, but 2 or 4 would probably make the most sense.

Yes a clerk-treasurer position would be needed, but would not be extremely expensive to staff. I don’t think a police department would be necessary, but City of Central Bridge residents might prefer it. Yes, the list would go on and on, like for example planning boards and zoning boards, staffed by volunteers. These boards would allow CB to have a say in what is built in the area, rather than the Towns of Schoharie and Esperance being in control. If CB wanted to take advantage of its newly created sewer system and attract development in a particular part of the city, it could do so, building up IT’S OWN TAX BASE; at the same time, it could prevent unwanted developments from taking place that otherwise would be pushed through by either the Schoharie or Esperance Town Planning Boards. Incorporating as a city would better allow Central Bridge to control how its resources, i.e. water system and possible sewer system are used.

As for building a new city hall, I doubt that would be necessary as I’m sure there are plenty of buildings in Central Bridge capable of housing City offices. However, a new facility could be built and it could be the centerpiece of a new and revitalized downtown Central Bridge.

Representation at the County level – Currently Central Bridge is “represented” at the county level by the Esperance Town Supervisor and Schoharie Town Supervisor, each containing about half of the hamlet in their respective townships. Under this set-up, these town supervisors would have little reason to focus county resources on Central Bridge’s needs as only half CB’s population are a part of their constituency. If Central Bridge were a city, it would automatically get its own “supervisor” to represent the city on the County Board of Supervisors, combining the hamlet’s currently divided population into one unitary weighted vote, serving as a voice and an advocate for Central Bridge.

Now I realize the above is not nearly as contemplative as this particularly sardonic witticism of yours:

“(…) and surely a city named "Central Bridge" could not endure without its own "Bridge Inspector"!!”,

but it will simply have to do.

Anonymous said...

NYC, 19 Million residents, 52 city council persons = 365 thousand per council seat. Albany, 95000 residents = 6333 per council seat.
Even using the lower figure, Central Bridge (Population 1288 using your figure) would need only .2 (2tenths) of one person to represent the entire constituency as adequately as is done in the State Capitol. We would be better off with a bridge inspector.
I would also like to point out that the population of Central Bridge is not evenly distributed between the two towns in which it is situated. The entire section called “Old Central Bridge” is located in the town of Schoharie, as is the entire “Downtown” section of “(New) Central Bridge”. I do not have the exact numbers at my disposal but I believe that most of the voters in Central Bridge reside in the town of Schoharie. I don’t know the significance of this point, but perhaps you can find one…
BTY, the word “their” is a possessive pronoun; used incorrectly in your phrase “Is their a resulting economy of scale that is beneficial for Central Bridge taxpayers…”
I also disagree with you on the value of sarcasm. Oscar Wilde has described sarcasm as “the lowest form of wit”. I actually agree with that statement, and tend to use it as a tool only when engaging another form of “wit”, that is, the “nit-wit”
Have a nice day…

Sean Thomas said...

Okay, if you want to waste both our time correcting grammatical and typographical errors, let’s do that. First off all, NYC does not have 19 million residents, it has 8,085, 742 residents according to 2003 estimates. But I won’t harp on that because your entire point is meaningless anyway. The “adequate” ratio of constituents to representatives is totally subjective and depends on your own views and opinions. I personally think the smaller the constituency, the better. But maybe you were trying to make another point and your monkey math just got in the way.

You actually corrected my use of the word “their”! Are you F&#*king kidding me, man?
By the way, you said “BTY” instead of “BTW” abbreviation for “By the Way”. So there!

Essentially, you’ve just wasted 3-4 minutes of my time to correct my grammar and call me a “nit-wit”. Nice job! I hope you got something of use out of it. I've already wasted too much time on this exchange. Get a life!

Sean Thomas said...

Sorry I referred to your figures as “monkey math”, you got the numbers wrong, but you have a point here. I honestly just don’t think it’s a very good one, and believe it or not, I’m not going to call you names because I disagree with you. Here’s the problem: Albany, NY which is indeed our state CAPITAL, (not “capitol” as you said which refers only to the “capitol-building” itself), is not exactly a shining beacon of representative democracy. I don’t think you’d find too many people in Albany willing to describe their representation as “adequate”. I’m talking about City government here, saying nothing at all about the affairs inside the state “capitol” building.

But anyway, large constituency-to-rep ratios are not really all that advantageous to populations. Smaller ratios are almost always better. Smaller-sized communities allow for direct political engagement and are therefore more responsive. Obviously you can point to exceptions, so please do not do so thinking you’ve “caught” me. Thousands of villages, towns and small cities across the United States have much smaller constituency-to-rep ratios than NYC or even Albany (Smallbany to some). Does the fact that big cities are unable to accomplish this, mean that citizens in smaller communities shouldn’t get the benefits of more intimate face-to-face contact with their reps? In large cities, residents are forced to join intermediary organizations (neighborhood groups, activist groups, etc.) to get through to their elected representatives. There’s always going to be politics and agendas involved here; so wouldn’t it be better to be able to go directly to the source?

Do me a favor: read the post, think about it and respond with a well-reasoned, non-confrontational counter-point. Do not correct my grammar, it won’t make your argument any stronger, and save the petty insults for when your IM-ing your high school friends.

Anonymous said...

I re-read your post. I thought about it. After careful consideration, I have come to the following conclusion:
1. I still want to be Mayor.
2. We still need a Bridge Inspector.
3. You are still a nit-wit.
I apologize if that seems confrontational.

Sean Thomas said...

The sum total of your counter-argument: "you're a nit-wit". Must be a law scholar or something with that keen analytical mind.

Here's some friendly advice: Try going for a week without getting drunk or getting high, find a babysitter for your inbred children and go back to high school and get that G.E.D. In time you may be able to formulate an argument a little bit stronger than "you're a nit-wit".

Until then, quit wasting my time. After all, I'm just a nit-wit, right? Why continue reading my blog so intently to see what I have to say?

Skeptic said...

Sean - Is your last name Thomas or Thomaston?

Sean Thomaston said...

Hmm... Is "skeptic" your first, last or middle name? Why the hell would you care what my real name is? Very creepy...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you Sean! I used to be a landlord in Central Bridge and nearly lost my house beacuse my idiot tenants would flush everything under the sun down the damn toilet. I just couldn't explain to these people that used condoms, paper towels, tampons and cigarrettes go in the trash NOT the toilet. For six months the septic system was backing up into the basement, and they never told me, thinking I would take their security deposit. Finally after neighbors complained I became aware of the full extent of the problem - the damage cost me nearly $8,000! I was not helped much by the 320 dollar security deposit. What can I do, I still have yet to recoup that loss? Until the renters of Central Bridge understand the concept of indoor plumbing, I'd rather pay for a municipal sewer system.

Skeptic said...

Jeez take it easy. You seem to have an opinion on just about everything and I was wondering if you used your real name. It has been listed on your blog both ways. I guess you could be using a fake name. Sorry for asking.

Sean Thomaston said...

Skeptic...Sorry if that came out the wrong way. But you're right, I do take an opinion on a lot of different issues, and I fear that if my real identity were known I would be unsafe in this community. Already I fear that my opnions will make me the subject of lynch mob-style reprisals in the dead of night. As I'm sure you've read, these exchanges can get quite heated. I'd just feel safer knowing that there's a little bit of anonymity protecting me from some of the cretins that comment on this blog. Surely you can understand why someone asking what my real name is would arouse my curiosity. Anyway, my identity is irrelevant, its the power of my ideas that is important.

If you must know my real name, Sean Thomaston is an anagram. My real name is VOLDEMORT! Muah ha ha ha!!!

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, my identity is irrelevant, its the power of my ideas that is important.", it is not your name that is irrevelant, it is YOU!!
you make me laugh...

Sean Thomaston said...

Yes, and despite identifying yourself as 'anonymous', I can still sniff out the same trademark dumbass sarcasm in everyone of your retarded posts. Get a life already!

The Mayor said...

and I STILL want to be Mayor!

The Mayor said...

and that would be "every one", not "everyone"...there is a subtle difference there.

Skeptic said...

Wow - now I see why using the fake name is a good idea. Let's talk about issues here people. Keep the insults for the playground.

Sean Thomaston said...

Skeptic, you are 100% right. If you read all the comments associated with this post, you will see that I have been provoked with childish insults and then lowered myself to respond in kind. I am shame-faced.

the Mayor said...

OK, you are both correct. I hereby resign from my self-appointed role of troublemaker.

Anonymous said...

i live in central bridge and the whole sewer system is total bullshit i have my own sewer and water. why the hell would i want to pay that money that is shit