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Work on Jefferson County stormwater group continues

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Nine communities hope to obtain a $100,000 state grant to help form a Jefferson County stormwater group.

As lead entity, the town of LeRay will submit the state Department of Environmental Conservation grant application for the seed money by Friday’s deadline. A decision would be expected in the latter half of next year.

City Water Superintendent Michael J. Sligar said the organization is assured of getting the money because the state required it to be formed. Once in place, the group will take a regional view on how to handle stormwater management.

The city of Watertown was the ninth entity to sign the letter of intent to become a member of the stormwater group, he said. The other communities involved are the villages of Carthage, West Carthage, Black River, Brownville and Dexter and the towns of Rutland and Watertown.

Known as the Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer Systems, or MS4, the stormwater strategic plan can be more cost-effective than individual plans because nine communities are working with one another “on a common goal,” Mr. Sligar said. The new agency will not officially form until all nine communities sign an intermunicipal agreement, which is still months away, he said.

Last Monday, the Watertown City Council approved a resolution authorizing City Manager Sharon A. Addison to sign the letter of intent.

But Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith expressed some reservations, wondering how the city would benefit from joining.

“I ask these questions because in the past, we’ve heard how great something was going to be for the city and then it’s not great for the city,” he said.

Mr. Sligar said while Watertown is required to participate, the city still can decide to back out if it is not working out as planned.

Staffing the group may become a sticking point because the city already has employees involved in stormwater issues, while the other municipalities do not. Because of that, Mr. Sligar said, the city should not be responsible for paying the group’s staffing or consultant expenses.

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