As I write this piece at the end of April, reservoirs under the Regulating District’s jurisdiction are full, having provided beneficial storage earlier in the year during an early thaw and significant precipitation. On Great Sacandaga Lake, low level “Dow” outlet valves were opened as downstream flows allowed to stabilize reservoir elevation. And we are preparing to assist NYS DEC with placement of navigational aids around the lake – a sure sign of spring and the upcoming boating season!

Good News in the State Budget
I reported some potentially very good news in our winter newsletter in the form of Governor Hochul’s proposed budget, which included an additional, $20 million in State funding for repairs and improvements at the Conklingville Dam. We are pleased to report that this funding was included in the State’s adopted budget, bringing New York State’s total commitment for the project to $40 million. We are working closely with our partners in State government to execute this important capital project, which will begin in 2023 at the earliest, to ensure the Conklingville Dam can continue to safely provide its important ecological, economic, recreational, health, and flood protection benefits for decades to come. 

More Good News in the State Budget
The second piece of very welcome news in the final adopted budget is a key element of ensuring the Regulating District can continue to execute its important mission for future generations in a sustainable, fiscally-responsible way. As I indicated in our last edition, a shift of the Regulating District’s local property tax obligations to the State has long been the only proper, permanent way to address a fundamental change in the Regulating District’s funding model stemming from a loss in federal court in 2008. The practical impact of that loss was that the Regulating District could no longer pass the cost of property taxes it pays annually on taxable State land under its jurisdiction to downstream hydroelectric companies. Instead, as a result of the court decision, the Regulating District began passing these costs along to taxpayers in downstream counties. Thanks to language included in this year’s State budget and now enacted as law, local municipalities and school districts are made whole, while the corresponding decrease in the Regulating District’s expenses mean that its costs apportioned across multiple beneficiaries, including downstream counties in the Hudson River Area, will also decrease. Pursuant to an agreement signed by the Regulating District and these counties in 2013, these counties will begin to see this fiscal relief as early as 2024.