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Schumer blasts administration’s 2015 budget proposal for slashing sewer funding

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CANTON - U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer blasted a recent federal budget proposal for 2015 that would slash sewer infrastructure funding during a press conference Tuesday.

The proposal released by Present Barack Obama’s administration calls for a funding cut of roughly $430 million — about $40 million in New York alone — to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, Mr. Schumer reported. That would mean that more than 340 projects with pending applications across upstate New York could be jeopardized.

This fiscal year, the program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency is funded at $1.4 billion; the administration’s proposed budget would fund the program at $1 billion in fiscal year 2015. The federal fiscal year starts in October.

Numerous pending grant applications in the north country for fiscal year 2015 could be affected by the proposed cut, according to information from the senator’s office. Jefferson County has 19 pending grant applications, St. Lawrence County has 10 and Lewis County has two.

Mr. Schumer, D-N.Y., said he has called on members of the Senate Appropriations committee to boost funding for the sewer program to at least the current $1.4 billion level. He said the fund has been with a steady decrease in funding over the past few years — a $600 million drop since fiscal year 2010.

“A $40 million cut in just one year would be a real setback for New York,” he said. That “is not a small change, especially when you consider just how much capital these grants free up. A relatively small grant from the federal government can give municipalities the support they need to start construction right away.”

Slashing funding would take an additional toll on businesses and residents, Mr. Schumer said, as postponing projects allows sewer systems to fall into disrepair and forces municipalities to increase utility costs.

“Businesses, given the choice, will go to places with lower utility costs, and predictable utility costs,” he said. “They seek out communities that have good water and wastewater infrastructure in place because they know those costs affect their businesses.”

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