HRBRRD Caps Permit Fees Until 2010

At its May 8 meeting in Old Forge, the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District's board passed a motion to cap fees for Great Sacandaga Lake access permits at current levels for budget years July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2009. This action means that no fee increase can take place until January 1, 2010. Permit fees were last increased in 2001.

The lake's access permit system is supposed to be self-supporting, with permit fees bringing in 80% of its cost (permit holders get a 20% credit for taking care of their permit area). However, the District has been struggling for years to determine that cost. In January 2004, the board instructed its brand new executive director, Richard Lefebvre (since departed to head the Adirondack Park Agency), to hire an outside firm to perform an independent audit to determine the permit system's legitimate cost. In August 2005, that firm reported that the job was mission impossible; the District's records were a mess.

Since the District has a total staff of only about 30 people, not all of whom work full- or part-time on the access permit system, this announcement brought down a storm of derision. After all, the concept of time sheets has been around since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Now, the District is paying Saratoga Associates to show it how to calculate the cost of the permit system. Once the District has the methodology under control, it will collect the necessary data over the next three years, thereby resolving (albeit very slowly) the cost mystery. You couldn't make up this stuff.