MASSENA - Should St. Lawrence County go through with its proposals to add an additional per ton fee to garbage disposal costs, Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad says the village will no longer utilize the countys transfer station.
We could save $100,000 by hauling it ourselves, whether it be through a third-party hauler or doing it ourselves, Mr. Fayad said.
Throughout the last five years, the county has always raised its tipping fees. Its now to the point, where its costing us $100,000 a year more than it was five years ago. That figure, he said, represents 20 percent of the current years refuse budget.
Mr. Fayad said the countys current tipping fees are $122 per ton. The county then takes the waste it collects to the Development Authority of the North Country landfill in Rodman, where they are charged only $45 per to dump it.
Thats a difference of $77 per ton, Mr. Fayad said, adding the village generates roughly 3,900 tons of garbage per year.
Should the village open its own transfer station and then haul its waste to DANCs landfill or even pay a third-party hauler, such as Casella, to do so, Mr. Fayad estimates there could be significant savings for the village.
I could do it for $95 per ton, he said, adding that includes the money necessary to cover tipping fees, as well as pay for the capital investment that would be required, including equipment, manpower, and potentially finding a site for the station.
Mr. Fayad said in an effort to be open with the county he and Mayor James F. Hidy informed the county of their plans this past May.
I told them we will not pay one dime more than were paying today, Mr. Fayad said. Just because they cant keep their house in order, theyre not going to pass those charges on to the village of Massena.
Mr. Fayad said he and Mr. Hidy were initially told that the county would then change existing refuse laws to make it illegal for them to do so.
They told us they would change the local law and prohibit us from taking it to DANC, he said, adding that after they realized they couldnt do that thats when talk of adding an additional per ton charge came up.
You can call it a surcharge, a fee, a tax or whatever you want. A fine is what it is. Its a fine and an unfair tax, he said. We will not be subject to any more taxes or fees because the county legislature cant get its house in order. Theyre thwarting our efforts to become more efficient.
Mr. Fayad said that based on the countys current tonnage the fee would be $18.50 per ton, when multiplied by 3,900 hundred tons that translates to an additional $72,500.
If they get more tonnage, that fee will go down, but if they lose tonnage that fee will skyrocket, he said, adding thats what would happen if the village stopped using the county for garbage disposal.
Mr. Fayad said a dispute by the administration of the solid waste department and its employees is largely to blame for the proposed increases.
The only reason theyre doing this is to protect the 15 man fiefdom that theyve built up over the years, he said referring to the departments employees.
Mr. Fayad said that the department used to shell out large amounts of overtime, but after the current administration took over overtime was drastically reduced and those employees began complaining to the legislators.
Im not saying lay anybody off, he said, suggesting instead the county transfer some of its solid waste employees to the highway department.
They need the help, he said.
Another reason for the increased costs is what he called a lack of efficiency and investment in the department over the years.
They never properly invested in equipment, he said, noting they are using trailers much smaller than they should be.
If they could add more to a trailer than their efficiency would increase, he said.
Mr. Fayad said the legislature put together a committee to examine the future of its solid waste department, with that committee making five recommendations.
Despite having five options, to choose from, Mr. Fayad said the county has only seriously looked at one of the options and thats creating a tax or surcharge.
Other options included doing nothing, modifying flow controls, entering into a public, private partnership or selling the division entirely.
While doing nothing is obviously not the solution, Mr. Fayad noted the county already has a public- private partnership for recycling, and a sale of the branch would take the problem completely out of their hands.
As for the modification of flow controls, Mr. Fayad said hes not sure if anything can be done about that.
Mr. Fayad said St. Lawrence County is required to transport its debris to the DANC landfill in Rodman, while Jefferson County, where Rodman is located, is not.
Why dont they make Jefferson County have flow control? he asked. It doesnt make sense for us to haul garbage for two-and-a-half hours when we could drive half an hour (the Franklin County transfer station in Westville) the other way.
Flow control though isnt Mr. Fayads primary concern.
Im obliged to flow control, he said. I can live with that, but we will not abide by any modifications to the local law or any modifications to the permitting process, The village will not pay any additional surcharges or penalties associated with any modifications to anything, period.
Mr. Hidy said he agreed with Mr. Fayads position and is 100 percent supportive of his efforts.
Weve charged our department heads to look for cost cutting efficiency measures in their departments without cutting services to the public, Mr. Hidy said. Our DPW superintendent has diligently come back with his recommendations as to refuse, and I think the numbers speak for themselves.
Mr. Hidy said that regardless of what the county legislature may think the villages obligation is to its own taxpayers, not all county residents.
There is a substantial savings to the village and our course of action is to be fiscally responsible to the people of the village of Massena, he said, adding rumors that changes could be coming in that departments administration are unfortunate and very disturbing.
I think its unfortunate and very disturbing that individuals within the county legislature would turn this issue into a vendetta with regards to one of their own administrators, he said, declining to identify specifically who he was talking about.
This administrator has serviced the county and its residents in the upmost fiduciary and professional manner. Its my goal to lend my support to this individual and at the same time convey to the other town supervisors and village mayors the total injustice that has come upon this person.
When asked if he thought the village would ultimately end up in the garbage business, Mr. Fayad replied, Eventually we will end up having to do it.