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May 28, 2012

Clinton County pays off landfill debt

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.

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