TO: Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee Members
FROM: Peter Van Avery
DATE: June 29, 2012

Here's the latest Batchellerville Bridge update from NYS Department of Transportation Spokesperson Carol Breen:

"We are pouring concrete for the bridge deck and, as we did with steel erection, are working from each side of the lake and will complete the middle section last. At this point, the western side of the bridge deck is complete. Crews are working on the eastern side of the bridge, and that side is expected to be completed by the end of July. Concrete will be poured for the middle section of the bridge at the end of July and through August.

"Once the concrete deck is completed, crews will build curbs and sidewalk, install bridge railing and lighting, and do other finishing treatments, such as paving and striping. Work is being done now to complete the embankment and concrete retaining walls on the east side of the bridge.

"The project is progressing smoothly, and we are still on schedule to open the new bridge to traffic this fall."

At its June meeting, the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District's board voted to adopt a three-year budget commencing July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015.

Expected revenue from access permit fees over the next three years averages out at about $423,500 per year. The District is going to have to scramble to achieve that target. Although the books for the current fiscal year aren't quite closed yet, permit revenues were running at about $399,000 as of a week ago. The final total will obviously be lower than the $408,000 collected in FY2010-11 and the $414,000 collected in FY2007-08.

"The decrease most likely represents the reduced turnover in private properties with access permits," according to Executive Director Michael Clark. "When private properties change hands, new applications are made that generate application and stake-out fees. The permit system revenue trend suggests declining real estate sales -- no surprise really."

How the District plans to fill a possible FY2012-13 permit fee shortfall remains to be seen.

At the June meeting, the District's board also reversed a 3% salary increase awarded in April to its nine management/exempt employees. Here's the background on this strange -- and somewhat embarrassing -- flip-flop.

In November 2008, a Federal court ruled that the District could no longer bill downstream hydro station operators for its operating expenses. This cut off 80 percent of the District's revenues and plunged it into a financial crisis. In April 2009, the Director of State Operations -- because of the unprecedented fiscal emergency -- issued a directive freezing the salaries of the District's non-collective bargaining unit employees. This cost them an average salary increase of 3% in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Why the board thought the freeze had expired -- after all, the District is so broke that it has reneged on paying its latest round of school and property taxes -- beats the heck out of me. But in April of this year, it went ahead and voted management/exempt employees a 3% raise. At the very least, you would have thought that the board would have checked with the Director of State Operations.

Anyhow, at its June meeting, the board voted to rescind the raise. Did they receive a phone call from Albany? That puts the District's management/exempt employees back at their 2008 salary levels. For the record, the District's five top salary earners are Executive Director Michael A. Clark ($97,500), Chief Engineer Robert Foltan ($90,913), Counsel Robert P. Leslie ($92,500), Chief Fiscal Officer Richard J. Ferrara ($87,150), and Operations Engineer Michael A. Mosher ($70,530).

The next meeting of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District's board will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 10, 2012, at the Mayfield Municipal Complex, 28 North School Street, Mayfield, NY. The board does not plan to meet in August. In September, it will meet in Lowville, NY.

The lake is at 766.96 feet above sea level, about 6 inches below target.