By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO May 28, 2004 Its now a $50 million pool of debt.
The countys fiscal office, Department of Public Works and Solid Waste reassessed their cost estimates on the landfill and presented the new figures at a special meeting of the legislature this week.
That number could be even higher, based on the calculations. The meeting is part of an ongoing discussion among the legislators and county officials on how best to handle the countys waste.
The new calculations reveal it will cost approximately:
$6 million to construct Cell 6
$5.6 million to close cells 1 and 2
$3.7 million for land purchased for phase 2
$1.7 million for the recycling facility
$1.2 million for phase 2 design and permitting
$24 million for equipment and other costs since 1994
$600,000 for gas collection equipment
A rough estimate of over $6 million was given at the meeting on the costs to cap cells 3-6. However, that number was not part of the presentation. Cells 1 and 2 alone cost $5.6 million.
In addition, Commissioner of Financial Management Richard LaCondre continued to project a loss of $1.5 million on the landfill for 2004. Next year, the landfill is expected to lose $360,000, he said. Those numbers include costs to control odors and litter and a projected reduction of nearly 100,000 tons in waste.
Furthermore, the landfill has nearly 100,000 fewer tons of space available than originally projected, said Director of Solid Waste Management John Kehlenbeck.
Legislature Chairman Chris Cunningham asked whether the county could limit its intake of waste from outside the county. Kehlenbeck replied that the county was already doing so when weekly capacity was reaching its maximum.
However, Deputy County Attorney Cheryl McCausland threw a curve ball, stating the county had no legal right to discriminate against outside commerce. Still, the County Legislature passed a local law which gave it the authority to control the intake of waste at the landfill. McCausland said the only way the county could limit outside waste was through forming a garbage district or authority.
Other legislators, like Ron Hiatt and Sam Wohl, wanted to know how much of the countys intake of alternative daily cover was necessary. Nearly half of the landfills tonnage has been made up of that cover at times. Kehlenbeck could not answer that question. He only stated that some of it was required by DEC regulations.
Majority Leader Kathleen LaBuda called for a raise in the tipping fees to offset the countys losses.
We cant raise property taxes, she said.
Meanwhile, SPECS Attorney Gary Abraham has dropped his groups petition for a $20,000 technical assistance grant. Abraham said his group dropped the petition because the county would not settle unless the petition was dropped. However, he said the county then asked for something more, which his group cannot accept.
County Attorney Sam Yasgur denied it.
If he said we added conditions, he is wrong, remarked Yasgur.
Furthermore, Abraham contended that his group is willing to accept Cell 6 as long as the county reduces its intake of waste to 125,000 tons and 50,000 tons of alternative daily cover. Both numbers are approximately half of what the county has taken in the past.
The meetings between legislators and other county officials will continue this Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the government center in Monticello.