Schenectady County

Colonie OKs lease of landfill

The Town Board Thursday night agreed to lease operations of the Colonie landfill to California-based

The Town Board Thursday night agreed to lease operations of the Colonie landfill to California-based Waste Connections.

The vote was 6-1, with the board’s lone Republican, Daniel Dustin, voting “no.”

The 25-year lease will take effect as soon as Supervisor Paula Mahan signs the contract, said Assistant Town Attorney Jack Spath.

The board’s vote followed a 21⁄2 hour public hearing on the lease agreement at Town Hall on Loudon Road. Approximately 100 people attended with more than 15 speaking. Several were from the neighboring town of Halfmoon and urged the board to close the landfill, which they said creates odors, is unsightly and lowers their property values.

Colonie resident Tom Nicotera repeatedly quizzed the board about revenue projections outlined in the lease agreement and about whether Waste Connections will use the latest technology to control odors.

Colonie resident Scott Osur said he favored the agreement because it brings in extra income from a source beyond property taxes.

Denise Sheehan, the former commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation and a Republican challenging Mahan, a Democrat, for the supervisor’s position in November’s election, leveled several criticisms. She criticized the lack of transparency in the process leading up to the vote and said town residents remain confused about why the board wants to make the agreement.

Mahan said the board determined the town could not operate the landfill without incurring annual operating losses, which she said will reach $5.7 million after 20 years. She said a report by Moody’s Investors Service in June 2010 said the landfill fund has an operating surplus of $866,000 but that it has a cumulative deficit of $7.7 million. This deficit is in addition to a general town deficit of approximately $10 million.

Mahan said the town has in the past used the landfill income for general operating expenses rather than maintaining a fund to handle eventual closure and post-closure liabilities. The landfill has 12 years left of operation at its present rate of use.

expansion expected

However, Waste Connections is expected to double the capacity to extend its operating life an additional 13 years.

Under the agreement, Waste Connections will provide Colonie with a $23 million signing payment, which will retire the landfill and general town deficits. It will purchase the town’s landfill equipment for $860,000, pay the town $2.3 million per year for the first five years and then $1.1 million for the remaining years of the lease. It also will pay a royalty of $6 per ton on waste above the current volume limit, which is 170,000 tons per year. The company will also pay a modification fee of between $2 million and $10.8 million based on yardage.

Curbside pick-up fees would be tied to the Consumer Price Index while current rates for villages will be maintained. Rate increases for the villages will be capped annually.

Dustin said his review of the revenue projections showed a $44.1 million gap between what the town expects to receive from the contract versus its expenditures over 23 years. He asked the board to delay a vote on the agreement until Sept. 22, when the town’s audit is completed. His motion died for lack for a second.

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