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Malta residents overwhelmingly approve purchase of water utility

Gazebo at US Route 9 and Route 67
Peter Flass
Gazebo at US Route 9 and Route 67

Residents in the Saratoga County town of Malta have overwhelmingly voted for a proposed purchase of Saratoga Water Services.

Malta voters took to the polls this month to show their support for a proposed upgrade to the city’s infrastructure.

“You know we were nervously sitting there like you do on election night, and then we heard the results we were overjoyed. We worked hard to get the word out, and we did get it out,” said Young.

Town Supervisor Cynthia Young.

“This project has been going on for almost two years now. We’ve spent a year and a half where C.T. Male engineers did a deep dive into the system, evaluated it and found it to be in great order, it’s relatively new. The oldest parts were built in the late 1970s, so by water standards that’s a baby. And it’s well maintained, well built. The water quality is abnormally good. All it needs is chlorination basically no other purification,” said Young.

The measure was approved by voters with 414 votes in favor of the $14.3 million purchase, and only 26 against. Young says the project’s largest hurtle is now behind them, but there’s still work to be done, like hiring some new employees and getting permission for the transfer from the Public Service Commission.

“We have to pass a local law about exactly how we’re going to manage the water system. We’re fairly confident that it should go pretty smoothly. We are taking on four of their current employees from Saratoga Water Services,” said Young.

Saratoga Water began serving Stillwater and Malta residents in 1978. Owner Alec Mackay says the time had come to pass ownership on. Other than him, all other current employees will be sticking around to help operations.

“It’s more melancholy. I think everything has it’s time and place. 25 something years ago we were in a fight to retain our ownership from the county authority. And I think over the last 25 years we’ve proven that the private sector can do it the right way under the right circumstances. I feel we did that. We’re turning it over to the town, which are very capable hands, but a system that is top of the line, ready to go, basically turn-key,” said Mackay.

Officials say the nearly 3,000 properties that rely on Saratoga Water Services shouldn’t expect any changes to service or rates.

Mackay says it’s important that the utility be managed by those with a vested interest in the local municipalities the company serves.

“Our other options were, you could do hedge funds, there’s investment people out there, other larger utilities that would buy Saratoga Water Services. Now we’ve been part of the community for multiple generations and we felt it was a better fit if the town could control its own destiny and that’s why we went down that road,” said Mackay.

Young says there are no major upgrades or repairs needed in the immediate future and hopes to close on the deal by October.