Concerns have been addressed and new legislation allowing Otsego County to quit the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority is now making its way through the state Legislature.
At the end of December, legislation reached Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk that would allow Otsego County to prematurely leave the tri-county authority, which it is supposed to be part of until 2014. The bill had been passed in the summer of 2011, but took six months to reach the governor’s desk so the state Legislature could pass chapter amendments in January that would make the breakup more palatable to Montgomery and Schoharie counties.
The tweaks are sponsored by the legislators who advanced the breakup, state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, and Assemblyman William Magee, D-Nelson.
The proposed changes include the makeup of MOSA’s board, which under the proposed changes would be filled by three members chosen by Montgomery County and three by Schoharie County.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly to Montgomery and Schoharie counties, the new legislation changes the way the authority’s assets and liabilities would be distributed if Otsego County left. Under the legislation passed last summer, these would be split based on population, but the new legislation allocated the assets and liabilities based on the percentages specified in a Post Closure Monitoring and Maintenance Agreement from 2009.
Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman Shayne Walters said the inclusion of the 2009 allocation language instead of the population formula probably prevented the county from bringing a lawsuit against Otsego County. He said the county would have sued if the formula in last year’s legislation was used.
“And I think the governor knew it,” Walters said.
Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, who represents part of Montgomery County, said that even though the proposed changes address some of the outstanding legal concerns raised by the breakup, there were still remaining issues.
“I still don’t believe this is best for the remaining two counties,” Amedore said. “It looks like they’re trying to work on the legalities, but I hope everyone can come to the table to bring about the dissolution of the authority or make sure it is fair for all the counties involved.”
Amedore said that he prefers that the authority be dissolved altogether if Otsego County is allowed to leave.
MOSA Executive Director Dennis Heaton said questions remain unanswered about the breakup, even with this additional legislation. “You really need all three participating counties to discuss this, rather then just being handed amendments,” he said.
“At this point, everybody should take a deep breath and work through all the details before we end up with a law that no one understands the details of,” he said. “I think there is time to work through the issues.”
The legislation in the Assembly, Assembly Bill 8902, moved from the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions to the full chamber Tuesday. Senate Bill 6128 is sitting in the Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, with no meeting date set.
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Categories: Schenectady County