MOSA’s future up to Cuomo

Controversial legislation allowing for the breakup of the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Ma

Controversial legislation allowing for the breakup of the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority has reached the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but could get some tweaks in 2012 before it is either signed or vetoed.

This summer, the state Legislature approved a request from Otsego County to terminate its membership in the authority before 2014, when the 25-year agreement that created the authority is to expire. The proposal was opposed by legislators representing Schoharie and Montgomery counties on the basis that they felt its timing was wrong and the legislation was unfair.

“I am still pushing for a veto, and so is Sen. [Hugh] Farley,” said Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, who along with Farley, R-Niskayuna, opposed the measure. In total, 10 Assembly members and one state senator voted against the legislation, which was a home rule bill, the type that usually passes unanimously.

Amedore said the legislation ensures an unfair breakup of MOSA, as the authority’s assets and liabilities would be split up based on population, which is not how the authority has typically operated.

“I think it violates a lot of the agreements and practices that were already established,” he said. “We should be laying this aside to work together on bringing a dissolution of the authority together.”

Jeff Bishop, a spokesman for state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, said the bill has taken so long to reach the governor’s desk because they wanted to make iron out a couple issues that stem from Otsego County leaving the authority.

“There will be some chapter amendments,” he said.

In the 2012 legislative session, Bishop said Seward would be introducing amendments that would deal with MOSA after Otsego County leaves and other concerns. He said the amendments are based on ongoing conversations since the legislation was passed.

Before the legislation was passed, though, there was little public debate, and Amedore said Montgomery and Schoharie counties were caught off-guard. He noted that when the authority was created, it required a home-rule message from all three counties, but only Otsego County advanced a home-rule message to dissolve the relationship.

“When there are multiple stakeholders at the table, we should hear from every voice,” Amedore said.

Peter Edman, a spokesman for Farley, said one of the shortcomings of the legislation is that it failed to offer any sort of structure for the board of the authority if it only represents two counties.

“There are a number of questions still,” he said.

Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie, who voted against the breakup, said he was unaware of plans for chapter amendments. If there are amendments, he said they should deal with the operation of MOSA if the remaining two counties want to continue.

MOSA Executive Director Dennis Heaton did not indicate he was aware of any plans for chapter amendments, but did say there should be a conversation about the future with the three counties before Cuomo signs the bill.

“Whatever direction we go in should be as a team,” he said.

Heaton also expressed some questions about whether the legislation would actually pull Otsego County out of the authority before 2014, as the county has a signed contract that lasts until then.

As for the reason that Otsego County wants to get out of the authority — county officials believe the duties of the authority can be performed more cheaply — Heaton said they are wrong.

“If you eliminate the consolidation, there would be increases for everyone involved,” he said, noting that the authority has lowered its cost by 33 percent over the past two years and increased services. “We’ve done the math.”

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto did not respond to an email.

Categories: Schenectady County

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