The Putnam Examiner

Wary Residents Look to Opt Out of Kent Sewer District

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By Janine Bowen 

Kent residents are voicing concerns about the newly created sewer district while town officials are weighing the pros and cons of allowing residents to opt out of it.

At a Feb. 24 town board meeting, several residents were upset about the financial burden the new district carries for residents who didn’t ask to be included in the district. Doreen Pugliese, a property owner in the town for the last 14 years, stated that following the creation of the sewer district, she received a tax bill that was nearly $2,000 higher than she expected due to sewer district fees. Residents are also required pay to have their homes connected to the sewer line, which creates a difficult situation for Pugliese, whose property has two homes that will require two separate hook-ups.

“I’m going to have to give up my home because I can’t afford to stay there. I don’t have the means,” said Pugliese, who stated that she has already had to file for bankruptcy to stay in her home. “I just don’t know what to do at this point.”

She also noted that there is no reason that the two homes on her property need to be connected to the sewer system, as the septic system is working fine and gets serviced every two years.

Joseph Savio echoed Pugliese’s concerns about finances noting the taxes for his property have increased by $6,000. Savio, who is the CEO of Giuseppe Corporation which owns the building that houses Healy’s Corner Restaurant, stated he will also need to pay an additional $3,000 to have the building connected to the sewer line. Adding to Savio’s frustration is the fact that he has attempted several times to pay his bill only to be turned away by the town’s receiver of taxes.

Earlier this year, the town board passed a resolution that allowed Kent residents to pay their sewer tax in two installments. The receiver of taxes, citing a portion of New York State law, said that the resolution is not legal and has refused to accept money from Savio when he attempted to pay half of his bill.

Councilman Paul Denbaum explained that town officials are currently working with the state comptroller as well as attorneys in order to amend the tax bills in a way that allows the resolution to take full effect. One of these options is to label the payments a fee instead of a tax.

Denbaum expressed frustration that nobody mentioned any legal concerns about the resolution until the 11th hour, creating a difficult situation now.

“It wasn’t until the last hour that objections or complaints came up from other individuals, including the tax receiver, so I’m not really pleased with the process,” he said.

Denbaum stated he expects the issue regarding the legality of the resolution to be resolved within the next week, and jokingly urged Savio to pay his bill in pennies the next time he returns.

Within the next few weeks, the town board is also expected to make a decision as to whether or not they will allow certain residents to opt out of the sewer district. They plan to create guidelines for opting out and will consider requests on a case-by-case basis, although there is concern about the implications of allowing residents to not participate.

Some town board members were apprehensive about letting owners of undeveloped properties opt out fearing this might create several plots of land that will be undevelopable in the future. On the other hand, Denbaum noted that allowing people to opt out could allow others to opt in.

“This is a new process for all of us and we’re really trying to figure it out,” said Supervisor Maureen Fleming.

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