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Calverton Sewer District upgrade would lead to tax hike for businesses

A proposed upgrade of the Calverton Sewer District would increase the district tax rate from 23 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to $13 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to engineer Nick Bono of H2M, a consultant for Riverhead Town’s sewer district.

That’s an increase of 56 percent.

The increase would be paid only by property owners within the Calverton Sewer District, Mr. Bono said, and will affect only businesses, since there are no homes in the sewer district.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she was concerned because there are few businesses within the district, which leads to the high tax rate. A high sewer rate, she said, could end up prompting business at EPCAL to leave.

The proposed sewer upgrade was the subject of a public hearing at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting. The Calverton Sewer District was established in 1952 and still uses antiquated technology from that era, according to sewer district superintendent Michael Reichel. This would be its first-ever upgrade. Mr. Bono noted that the district currently has no debt.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said that if the proposed sale of 1,643 acres at EPCAL to Calverton Aviation & Technology goes through, that land would be added to the district, and would offset some of the tax burden on other Calverton businesses.

Mr. Bono said that in 2009, the estimated cost of needed improvements to the district was $7.56 million, but has now risen to $10.6 million.

He said the town has sought and acquired just under $7 million in grants for the project.

The upgrade is necessary because the plant currently discharges treated effluent into McKay Lake, which is a headwater for the Peconic Estuary.

The plan is to upgrade the level of treatment and discharge it back into the ground in a location north of the groundwater divide at EPCAL, a point at which groundwater flow changes directions.

No members of the public spoke at the hearing.

Photo credit: Tim Gannon

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