PLATTSBURGH — The lingering $17 million debt for the Clinton County Landfill has been retired.
“This is a huge item for us, and I am glad that it worked out,” said Legislature Finance Committee Chairwoman Sara Rowden (D-Area 4, Town of Plattsburgh).
The debt was incurred by the county when it operated the landfill on Sand Road in Morrisonville. In 1996, in a move to revamp the landfill finances, the county leased the dump to Casella Waste Systems of Vermont in a 25-year deal.
The agreement was controversial at the time, as some legislators did not want to give up the operation to a private company. But since the deal was inked, the county has been able to pay off the debt without having to worry about incurring more obligations at the landfill, as Casella has been responsible for the day-to-day operations and expenses.
“I wasn’t on the legislature when the deal was made, and it was very difficult and very controversial, but it was the right thing to do,” Rowden said.
“I think there are some things like this that can be moved to the private sector, and good services can still be provided.”
NEW GARBAGE CELL
With the debt retired, the county will realize savings of about $195,000 a year in debt payments.
“This is close to $200,000 in debt service that we don’t have to come up with anymore,” County Administrator Michael Zurlo said.
“That dynamic is certainly good for the county’s finances.”
The landfill has been a busy place under Casella, which brings in garbage from throughout the county and some from counties as far south as Albany.
Landfill staff is preparing to start a new garbage cell as the facility enters Phase 5 of its long-term plan. The new cell will be constructed to the north of the existing one that can be seen from Sand Road.
Landfill General Manager Anthony Dibello said the landfill has plenty of room to continue taking garbage for the remaining nine years left on the contract.
“We should be fine,” Dibello said.
“Nothing has changed. We are not looking to expand or looking for any tonnage increases.”
Under the original deal, Casella was allowed to take in 125,000 tons of garbage per year. It applied for and was given permission to increase that number to 175,000 tons in 1999.
Tipping fees at the landfill are $61.27 per ton.
Fees were fixed at $54 per ton for in-county residents for the first 10 years of the deal and have gone up gradually since 2006.
Those wishing to drop garbage off at one of the dozen convenience stations in the county can do so by purchasing stickers for $2 each. Normal household garbage bags require one sticker, while 55-gallon bags require two.
Dibello said business at the landfill and convenience stations throughout the county is steady but not booming.
“We take in C and D materials, which is construction and demolition
materials, and times are down (economically), and there really is not a lot of new construction going on.
“But everything else is steady,” he said.
Recycling continues to thrive at the landfill as well, as many residents drop off their plastics, glass, tin cans, newsprint and other recyclable items.
“This community seems to be very conscientious about recycling,” said Dibello, who took over landfill operations last September.
“And that’s good.”
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