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December 2, 2012

Land buy creates landfill deficit

MALONE — Tip fees were increased and more trash was accepted, but the Franklin County Regional Landfill still ended its budget year $240,000 in debt.

Officials say the deficit was caused by the Solid Waste Management Authority’s associated costs for a recent purchase of land so it can expand the landfill’s footprint to last for the next 100 years.

The authority received the County Legislature’s backing this spring to borrow $4.81 million to buy 686 acres near its County Route 20 facility.

At the same time, “we had to close Cell 2, which cost more than we anticipated,” said authority board member Greg Paye.

That meant an account the authority is obligated to fund for future cell closures was shy by about $787,000 and had to be made up at the same time the normal operating obligations had to be met.

HIGHER TIP FEES

The authority raised the tip fee, which is the amount paid to dump at the landfill, from $85 to $90 a ton at its three transfer stations in the fall and raised the fee from $70 to $75 a ton for those dumping trash at the landfill itself, which is located in the towns of Westville and Constable.

At the same time, more garbage was accepted at the dump than ever before, which helped ease the financial pressure.

A total of 74,016 tons of trash and acceptable cell-cover material was handled at the landfill in 2011-12 compared to 67,703 tons in 2010-11, the audit states.

But the authority still ended up with a loss of $242,526 this year after showing a surplus of $58,113 last year, according to the audit.

Paye said the year-end fund balance was $181,838, which is down from the $424,364 the agency started the year with, “but at least we’re still headed in the right direction.”

AUDIT CRITICISMS

The annual audit, prepared by Crowley & Halloran CPAs of Watertown, also showed two significant deficiencies.

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