Washington County reaches agreement with regulating district

T he Washington County Board of Supervisors approved a settlement Friday with the Hudson River Black River Regulating District, potentially putting an end to a four-year legal battle.

Supervisors agreed to make $299,833 in back payments and $138,238 per year through 2018. The settlement received the unanimous support of the board.

In 2009, the regulating district levied about $4.5 million in fees on Washington, Warren, Saratoga, Rensselaer and Albany counties after a federal court decision took away the district’s ability to charge private hydroelectric dams. Those charges were the district’s primary source of funding.

All five counties banded together in opposition to the fees and filed a lawsuit arguing they didn’t have to pay. But those lawsuits were largely unsuccessful.

After extensive negotiations between the five counties and the district, a $4.5 settlement was reached earlier this year.

The deal was made under the assumption that the state would pick up 22 percent of the total settlement.

Had it not made the agreement, Washington County would have had owed approximately $600,000 by the middle of March and $213,000 annually through 2018.

The deal has now been ratified by four of the five counties. Saratoga County was expected to vote on the settlement later this month.

The annual fee the county has to pay in 2013 was not included in its budget for the year and will be paid using monies from its fund balance.

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