Dansville trustees voted earlier this month to consider giving control of village water and sewer systems to the Livingston County Water and Sewer Authority. While some may think this is an easy way out of the village’s water and sewer mess, nothing is further from the truth.

Dansville trustees voted earlier this month to consider giving control of village water and sewer systems to the Livingston County Water and Sewer Authority. While some may think this is an easy way out of the village’s water and sewer mess, nothing is further from the truth.


The WSA claims it knows how to manage water and sewer systems. Maybe they do. Then again, adding Dansville would increase WSA customers by 50 percent. Only time will tell whether that will bring about economies of scale or a management nightmare. One thing is for certain: the WSA is not a panacea.


Removing the village board as the decision makers is a great political move — great for village officials who hope to get reelected, not so great for village residents.


Giving up local oversight might make it easier for village officials to remove themselves from the toxic decisions of raising rates and planning multi-million dollar capital projects, but it also lessens the voice of the voting public.


Shifting to the WSA does little more than add a layer of government — one more beaurocracy for Dansville residents to navigate. This, in a time when one of the stated goals of Dansville officials is consolidating services and making government smaller.


As if that’s not enough, the WSA board isn’t even elected; they are appointed by the Livingston County Board of Supervisors, many of whom have no personal, direct interest in the WSA.


For Dansville residents, WSA control means just one voice, with relatively little voting power at the county level, when it comes to selecting the officials who will set rates and make decisions about borrowing money and building new facilities. And that’s to say nothing of whether Dansville would even have a voice on the WSA board itself.


That’s quite a contrast when compared to the current board of trustees that manages the water and sewer systems. If the voting public doesn’t like the way the village utilities are managed, officials can be voted out of office in the next election.


Giving control of village utilities to the WSA doesn’t bypass the problems facing Dansville today. There’s still significant debt associated with the last water treatment plant upgrades — debt that will still fall on the backs of village water users.


The wastewater treatment plant still needs a significant overhaul — an overhaul that has already surpassed the $1 million mark in planning and design. Then there are the leaking water pipes and aging sewer lines that need repairs and the water meters that need to be replaced if they haven’t already stopped working.


Officials can debate whether to invest in capital projects now or piecemeal the work over time, but the problems don’t go away. Pick your poison: interest or inflation, it’s still just two different ways of slicing the same apple.


In the end, the WSA might be able to take over the village water and sewer systems and manage them quite effectively. But there’s nothing to say that the village can’t do the same.


Village residents can control the path and destiny of the community, where the village is run of, by and for its residents. On the other hand, the village can hand that control over to unelected beauocrats.


It comes down to a fundamental question of what kind of future Dansville residents see for the village.