Mar 19, 2007 Martha E. Conway Uncategorized
The Madison County Department of Solid Waste and Recycling will move forward with phase three of its expansion of the Westside sanitary landfill project. The construction is expected to cost as much as $4 million.
Supervisor Michel DeBottis (Oneida Wards 1, 2 and 3), who chairs the county board of supervisors’ solid waste and recycling committee, said the project will be funded with money put aside in a landfill reserve account. Former Treasurer Harold Landers reported at numerous committee meetings that having to bond the project would add about 30 percent to its cost.
Engineer Kevin Voorhees said at the March 2 solid waste and recycling committee meeting that he was slightly concerned that it had taken the county so long to receive a letter from the state Department of Environmental Conservation regarding any questions they had about the project.
“There are 53 comments in the DEC’s letter, and we delivered our responses March 1,” Voorhees said.
According to Voorhees, the county’s response letter laid out the proposed timeline and explained the county is going forward with preparations to bid the project.
“We want to have the permit in hand before we award bids,” Voorhees said. “We told them we would meet with them as often as they need.”
Voorhees said the bid process is a little behind schedule, and the county needs to move now to ensure the available of construction crews and to keep costs down. The committee wants a bid deadline that will allow the board of supervisors to award bids at its May meeting.
“It should be a problem, but it shouldn’t have taken this long to get the original letter [from the DEC],” Voorhees said.
DeBottis said it has taken seven years and two months to advance the project to its current stage.
At a committee of the whole meeting called by the solid waste committee and held immediately preceding the March 13 board of supervisors meeting, DeBottis and Voorhees reviewed the process the department has undergone to plan for the waste disposal needs for the county for the next 100 years.
DeBottis and Voorhees reiterated the project will have no impact on taxes. Solid Waste and Recycling Department Director James Zecca said this is the first time in the history of the landfill facility that no debt will be undertaken to fund a project.
“Previously, you had to borrow and pay it back out of tipping fees,” Voorhees said.
Supervisor John M. Becker (Sullivan) asked if the construction estimates are recent enough to eliminate any last-minute surprise cost elevations. Voorhees said projections were only a week old but the county already may see them go a bit higher because many landfill construction businesses already have scheduled their work for this season.
Treasurer Cindy Edick said the bulk of the money earmarked for the project is in savings and certificates of deposit, earning about 5 percent interest. She said while using that money will reduce interest income, that still is much less of an impact than borrowing. Edick also said the money would not be disbursed all up front.
Supervisor Richard O. Bargabos (Smithfield) objected to the project going from the solid waste and recycling committee directly to the board of supervisors without first being reviewed by the finance, ways and means committee.
“Finance, ways and means should have been consulted,” Bargabos said. “Does it not affect the whole county? I question the board chairman if this was appropriate to put before finance, ways and means.”
DeBottis said because the expenditure requires only an internal transfer, finance, ways and means was not the way it needed to go. He said the committee proceeded the way it did on the recommendation of Edick.
“Barton & Loguidice addressed Mr. Bargabos’ questions while he still was a member of the solid waste and recycling committee,” DeBottis said. “We weren’t intending to bypass the committee system.”
“I don’t want to delay getting this project started, but I think it is important to have finance, ways and means do a review of what is cheapest,” Bargabos said. “I don’t oppose the project, but I question the wisdom of a $4 million expenditure of reserve funds without a review by finance, ways and means. Resolution number 32 required the review of two committees for a $10 transfer. This allows the expenditure of $4 million without review.”
“That’s the law,” said Chairman Rocco J. DiVeronica (Lenox). “This reserve fund was established long ago for this purpose.”
“Our goal was to be self-funding and pay as we go while replenishing funds at the same time,” DeBottis said. “We didn’t see the need to stop at go and collect $200 from finance, ways and means.”
The solid waste and recycling committee will hold a joint meeting with the public utility services ad hoc committee at 3 p.m. March 23.