Town’s legal victory will cost taxpayers $100K, says supervisor

Published: May. 17, 2023 at 5:58 PM EDT
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TOWN OF ALEXANDRIA, New York (WWNY) - The town of Alexandria has successfully defended itself from a long-running lawsuit. But the town supervisor says it’s hardly a win since legal fees of more than $100,000 need to be paid by the taxpayer.

Town of Alexandria Supervisor Brent Sweet sits in the town office, and papers related to a years-long legal battle surround him.

“A tremendous amount of documents we’ve gone back years and years,” he said.

Redwood resident Dan Peterson took the town to state Supreme Court two years ago after the town increased Redwood’s sewer charges by 40 percent in 2019. He claims the town was mismanaging funds and owes the district money.

The town won, Peterson appealed, and the judge ruled in favor of the town once again. But Sweet isn’t celebrating.

According to a 1986 state comptroller opinion, those only in the sewer district affected will need to split the cost of legal fees racked up from the lawsuit. Those fees are $131,000.

Divide that by 220 customers, it comes out to $600 each.

“It really makes this 220-people district bear the brunt, bear the whole thing,” said Sweet.

Peterson’s new lawyer, John Sullivan, says this ruling will also be appealed.

“I’ve reviewed the entire record of the court, and believe the appellate decision got it wrong. Why? I’m not sure, but they seem to defer to the local judge, and in this case, I think there’s some problems with the local court decision,” he said.

A resident we spoke with off-camera says it’s too bad the burden has to be on the taxpayers and adds they pay enough bills already. Their hope is the town and residents of the sewer district will be able to meet halfway.

A town board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday night where taxpayers can learn about what’s happening and the steps the town is taking to handle it.