MASSENA - Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad said Friday hes cautiously optimistic that the county legislature will do the right thing and not implement an additional per ton surcharge on top of their tipping fees.
Im cautiously optimistic. I would like to give the majority of the legislators the benefit of the doubt that theyll do the right thing for the populous of the county, but if they dont, Im going to do whats best for the populous of Massena, said Mr. Fayad, who has regularly been attending county legislature meetings since the discussions of increasing garbage tipping fees fees began several months ago.
Mr. Fayad said the village currently pays the county $122 per ton. Private haulers, he said, pay $131 per ton and private individuals are billed $160 per ton, fees that Mr. Fayad said are far higher than they need to be.
Theyre trying to shift the burden from the county to the populous, he said of the proposed waste generator fee.
According to data provided by county officials to Mr. Fayad, based on its current tonnage that fee would be an additional $18.50 per ton. Should the amount of trash collected by the county increase up to 30,000 tons per year that fee would drop to $5.50 per ton, but should the amount of trash collected decrease to 18,000 tons per year Mr. Fayad said that fee is slated to increase up to $54 per ton.
What do you think the trend is? Mr. Fayad asked. Its going down and as it continues to drop its (the surcharge) only going to go up.
Over the next few months, the county legislature will work on how much it would charge haulers who redirect some of their loads from the Development Authority of the North Country-operated landfill in Rodman to a St. Lawrence County transfer site and how long it might guarantee a particular price in return for the increased tonnage.
The county may also ask a consultant to develop an analysis of how the costs of Solid Waste should be distributed. The solid waste department is considered an enterprise fund meaning users of the transfer stations pay for most of its costs but as tonnages have slipped and costs escalate, some legislators want to change how expenses are covered, such as dealing with leachate from closed landfills, following state Department of Environmental Conservation guidelines on recycling and various administrative costs they believe affect everyone who generates waste.
We have the responsibility of making sure were charging everyone equally, and its not happening now, Legislator Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction. said at a Wednesday meeting. Its the bottom line of solid waste we have to charge for. When one-third of the waste generators are paying all the common costs, you cant get past that emergency.
Mr. Morrill has proposed increasing a surcharge for direct haulers to the DANC landfill in Jefferson County from $4.50 per ton to $18.50 per ton. The bulk of the increase, $13 per ton, would be a new surcharge to help the county cover its underused transfer stations. The existing $4.50 per ton fee to cover leachate removal would increase to $5.50 per ton.
While the direct haulers call the surcharge a tax, Mr. Morrill said it is a user fee that he expects the companies would pass on to their customers who previously have avoided certain expenses that patrons of the transfer stations have paid.
Mr. Fayad said should the amount of trash collected by the county increase up to 30,000 tons per year that fee would drop to $5.50 per ton, but should the amount of trash collected drop to 18,000 tons per year Mr. Fayad said that fee is slated to increase up to $54 per ton.
What do you think the trend is? Mr. Fayad asked. Its going down and as it continues to drop its (the surcharge) is only going to go up.
Mr. Fayad charged the county is creating the fee in an attempt to make it look like haulers, not the county lawmakers, are increasing peoples garbage disposal bills.
The haulers will charge that back to their customers, he said. Im vehemently against the correlation of any surcharge to the total tonnage in the county.
While the county is arguing it needs to collect the fee in order to pay for the department, Mr. Fayad suggested perhaps other changes should be made.
The county is saying they need this to be made whole, but in the business world you look for efficiencies and ways to streamline thats best for the entire business and not just one department.
Should the county implement the increased fees, Mr. Fayad said he is prepared to no longer utilize the countys trash hauling service, noting that he could save at least $100,000 per year by either hiring a third-party hauler or having village crews haul the trash to a landfill.
Mr. Fayad said that should the village decide to haul its own waste they would need to purchase a trash compactor, two tractors, trailers and potentially a site for a transfer station, costing them roughly $2.5 million.
With a 10-year payback, Mr. Fayad said the village would be looking at payments of $578,000 per year, something he said the village isnt likely to do.
Should the village open its own transfer station and allow surrounding communities to use it, the payments would increase to $1.1 million per year but could be recouped by charging a tipping fee of less than $100 per ton, well less than what the county currently charges, Mr, Fayad suggested.
How come I could do it for so much less? he asked.
Mr. Fayad also said based on current data the village of Massena is responsible for 16 percent of the countys waste,a figure that would translate to a loss of $488,000 should they no longer use the countys solid waste department.
Should they open their owntransfer station and the surrounding communities who currently use the countys site in Massena switch to the villages station, Mr. Fayad said that would translate to a loss of 44 percent of the countys total tonnage. Such a loss would decrease the departments revenues by roughly $1.4 million, he said.
If this continues, (the countys discussions) at some point in the near future the village of Massena will have to take a stand and that would be through either hauling out own waste or hiring a third party hauler, Mr. Fayad said.