by Nicole Reitz
Residents from the City of Fulton and from the Town of Granby attended a public hearing Monday night on the city’s plan to annex the Fulton Wastewater Treatment Plant. Fulton petitioned to annex the 44- acre parcel on County Route 48, and a section of land under the Oswego River, to create a physical connection with city boundaries.
Fulton wants to secure the sewage treatment plant from Granby and place it on the city’s tax rolls. The city owns the land that the sewage treatment plant sits on, but the issue lies in the fact that it’s located in the town of Granby. Fulton pays approximately $118,000 each year in county, town, school, fire district and highway district taxes on the plant.
The purpose of the meeting was to determine if the overall public interest was being served by the annexation. During the meetings public comment portion, residents from both municipalities spoke on how they believe the city and town should negotiate.
Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward said the annexation was not about taxes, but about lowering the city’s cost so it could be more desirable for companies to locate in the city. Woodward said that prospective buyers of the former Birds Eye plant are asking the city for large subsidies for water and sewer service.
“Putting Birds Eye back to work as any type of a facility is a win-win for everyone. Companies do not hire based upon where you live. People who work at Walmart live in the City of Fulton. People who work at Huhtamaki live in the Town of Granby. This kind of relationship needs to continue. We need to look at ourselves as a regional market and what can be done to ease the pain for everyone involved,” said County Legislator James Karasek.
Karasek continued by saying that he wished there would have been more discussions to resolve the issue between the municipalities before lawyers got involved. This questioning of why the city didn’t try to work out a compromise with the town was echoed in many of the nights public comments. John Allen, attorney for the City of Fulton, said that the city believes that there was no legal way to continue discussions, and that a court battle was the only option.
Many Granby residents present criticized the Mayor for bullying the Town of Granby, and for potentially raising taxes on other communities by taking the treatment plant off the tax rolls.
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