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Congklingville Dam on Great Sacandaga Lake. Photo via <a href="http://www.hrbrrd.com/"> Hudson River-Black River Regulating District</a>
Congklingville Dam on Great Sacandaga Lake. Photo via Hudson River-Black River Regulating District

North Country counties settle flood control fight

A multimillion dollar legal battle that simmered for half a decade in the North Country is finally winding to a close.

Four counties - including Albany, Rensselaer, Warren, and Washington - have agreed to settle a dispute with the Hudson River Black River Regulating district over who should pay for flood control efforts.

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"It took a lot of work to get [a settlement]," said Roger Wickes, attorney for Washington County.

"I always told them it wasn't about whether or not we'd pay, it was about how much we'd pay and it turned out that was the case. It's fair for what we're looking at."

The Regulating District operates dams and reservoirs across the North Country – including Great Sacandaga and the Stillwater Reservoir.

Officials in the four counties have now agreed to pay roughly $7 million in back fees. They will also pay just under $2.5 million each year to fund the Regulating District.

But John Rymph, chair of Washington County's board, maintained that it is wrong for the state authority to levy the flood control fees on county governments and their taxpayers.

"It's something that we couldn't get out of and I'm glad we didn't have to pay any more," Rymph said. "I still don't think it was right."

The state authority was nearly bankrupted by the legal battle and was forced to lay off staff and curtail operations. Saratoga County is expected to vote on the settlement soon.

The Regulating District's executive director, Mike Clark, told the Glens Falls Post Star that talks have also begun with the state of New York, which is also expected to begin paying for flood protection.

Reporter Jon Alexander contributed to today's broadcast, courtesy of the Glens Falls Post Star.  For more of his reporting, go to poststar.com.

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