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Jerusalem, Penn Yan end sewer dispute

JERUSALEM—After years of conflict and tens of thousands


of dollars in legal fees, the village of Penn Yan and the town of Jerusalem may have solved their differences. On a snowy February 17, members of the Jerusalem town board, Penn Yan village board and Penn Yan Municipal Board met at the Branchport/Keuka Park firehouse.
The long standing problem was connected with the contract between the two municipalities for treatment of sewage from the town which is processed at the Penn Yan wastewater treatment plant. Following an appeal of the most recent lawsuit, Jerusalem was ordered to pay Penn Yan the $152,692 owed for treatment of sewage from the town. Payment has been made.
Following the meeting in Jerusalem, Jones, Penn Yan Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr., and Penn Yan Municipal Board chairman Rom French addressed the long-standing issue.
All three agreed they wished to avoid further legal problems. French said, “They were very receptive to additional meetings to solve any issues we have instead of going to court.”  French has served on the village municipal board for a number of years and recalled, “The former contracts were easier to understand. Jerusalem paid one and one half times what customers in Penn Yan paid. In 1995 the one and one half was eliminated. They then paid the same amount of money for sewage based on what it cost to treat.” He said expense at the treatment plant was something in common. Using installation of a sewer line in the village as an example, French said Jerusalem would not pay for that work because that was not something that was in common.
French said there will be a list of things both would share. He added, “Now that everybody has heard the same thing,  clarify, that’s what needs to be done. The key is where do we go from here and how do we do it?  We’ll probably meet again in a month or so.” French said he felt the differences they need to be discussed are things the local groups can better understand themselves, rather than have those differences addressed by attorneys.
Jones said, “Doug and I agreed the contracts were poorly written. If both parties agree, contracts can be renegotiated.” Jones used the 31 percent Jerusalem was assessed as an example. He said 22.84 percent was negotiated in 2000 but was never ratified by the town board.  He said he researched town board minutes from 1999 and 2000 but couldn’t find any reference to ratification.
French said, “It was very successful meeting. Jerusalem is very receptive to additional meetings to solve any issues we have instead of going to court. All three will meet individually and come up with ideas, mostly to clarify things. Jones said, “We all agreed we need to keep the doors open and put together letters about our concerns.”  This was one of the last issues Marchionda was faced with as he moved through his final weeks in office. He confirmed it was a good meeting. He said Jerusalem has been invited to come to any meeting of the village municipal board.  


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