By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO August 28, 2001 In 1983, the Sullivan County Department of Public Works (DPW) took over landfill operations for the entire county. Transfer stations and the landfill behind the Apollo Plaza were constructed. Over the years, it has become a successful and profitable operation that county officials like to highlight.
"The DEC has told us that it is an example of how proper solid waste management should be run. We are very proud of that," commented DPW Commissioner Peter Lilholt. "We provide over $3 million to the county annually. It is an accomplishment we are very proud of."
The landfill is credited with helping turn the county around financially. When the landfill first opened, the county was deep in debt. Partially because of the landfill and improved economic conditions, the county was able to not only get out of debt but have a surplus in the general fund.
But all good things must come to an end.
Three years ago, a ten-year plan was put in place to close down the landfill. Over the last few months, the Sullivan County Legislature has begun to look at the landfill's options for its future, which number four:
1. Keep it open and expand it onto adjacent property;
2. Sell it and let it become privatized;
3. Not expand it and keep the transfer stations open; or
4. Just go along with the original plan and close it in seven years. It is being looked at now because it would take approximately six years to implement three of the four options.
The landfill is such an important issue that District 9 Legislator Sean Rieber made it one of his top priorities when he was appointed legislator earlier this year. Rieber took a tour of the landfill and is looking for input from his constituents.
"I gained a greater insight into the operation there, and that will allow me to suggest creative ways to manage the issue as the time to decide its future comes to pass," Rieber commented after the tour. "This issue is important to all county residents, and I plan to hear from them before we decide how to proceed."
A reconvened meeting (recessed from Thursday, August 2) of the DPW Committee was held on Thursday, August 16 to go over the options. Committee Chair Rodney Gaebel reviewed the four options and looked for input from the legislators.
"It is necessary to re-look at this. Things change," Gaebel stated. "This is a revenue stream we control. We need a decision by the end of the year."
Gaebel pointed out that money is in the reserve fund if the landfill is to be closed. No decisions were made at that meeting. Gaebel stated that, if there was room on the agenda, the matter would be discussed at the next DPW meeting on Thursday, September 6. If there is not enough time, a special meeting will be called.