At last, Cobleskill water deal looks likely


By Patsy Nicosia

Municipal water for the still-promised Lowe’s blasted forward Monday when, in just two hours, the Town and Village of Cobleskill worked out most of the details needed to clinch the deal.
“It just needs a little ‘tweaking’,” said Supervisor Roger Cohn after councilmen gave him the green light to finalize and sign an inter-municipal agreement with the village.
The deal would sell village water to the town at 1.5 times the standard rate.
It would also let the town create a water district and then sell the water to Lowe’s; a town public hearing on that part of the deal will be held Tuesday, May 27 at 7:30pm.
Todd Mathes, an attorney from Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna who was representing Lowe’s, said there’d be no cost to either the town or the village; Lowe’s would pay for both construction and maintenance of the lines.
The apparent breakthrough came after Mr. Cohn presented both an agreement creating a water district from the village line to the planned Lowe’s site just east of Wal-Mart—along with a timetable for getting it done—two weeks ago.
The village missed the first “deadline”; the town’s proposal called for the village to vote to create the water district last Tuesday, a step Mayor Mike Sellers and trustees stopped short of taking.
They did, however, go along with former mayor and Trustee Bill Gilmore’s motion to begin negotiations with the town in a 4-0 vote; Trustee Carol McGuire was not at the meeting.
Mr. Cohn said those negotiations took place Monday.
“It all came together very quickly,” he said. We had a very good discussion.”
That surprised Councilmen Linda Angell and Tim Purcell, who represented the town last Tuesday.
“I was not too encouraged when I walked out of there, but I was wrong,” Ms. Angell said. “Kudos. Kudos, kudos, kudos.
“The issues they brought up led me to believe it wouldn’t happen,” added Mr. Purcell.
At the heart of their concern is that the village still insists it can’t provide services outside its borders without sharing the expenses associated with them.
There may be ways to deal with that, however.
The legislation already exists for creating a two-tier taxing system, Deputy Mayor and Trustee Sandy Mackay said at last Tuesday’s meeting, pointing to the City of Gloversville, which has different rates for its “compact” and more rural portions.
Something like that would allow a different tax rate for, for example, a commercial district outside the village that receives village services like water, sewer, and police.
Mr. Cohn said that’s something he, Mayor Sellers, and Mr. Gilmore “talked about briefly” in Monday’s meeting, but that it’s not part of the water agreement.
“I said I was certainly open to talking about it,” he said.
Mayor Sellers Tuesday confirmed the details of Monday’s meeting.
“It’s in the spirit of working together and sharing services with the town—whatever that ends up being,” he said.
“Something I think the village will be pushing for is an agreement to share the tax base as well as water and sewer.”
Mr. Mathes said after Monday’s town meeting that the agreement—which still needs to be approved by the village and signed by both the village and the town--is an important step forward for Lowe’s.
Mr. Mathes said Lowe’s has all of the permits needed for the project, however Town Clerk Tina Shuart said they haven’t yet paid for and received their building permit.
Providing sewer services is also part of the package, but discussions on that piece of the deal haven’t really begun.