Saratoga County

Saratoga County may seek deal for landfill

The county is ready to take proposals from private companies interested in buying or leasing the unu

The county is ready to take proposals from private companies interested in buying or leasing the unused county landfill in Northumberland.

The county Public Works Committee on Tuesday voted to solicit proposals, starting a process that should put offers in the county’s hands in October.

“The county is positioning itself to consider a wide range of proposals,” said Hans Arnold of Utica, a consultant to the county. “It could be a sale, a lease, or a hybrid of the two.”

County supervisors are looking at selling the facility — potentially worth millions of dollars — as a way of raising revenue to prevent future tax increases.

The landfill was built at the end of Kobor Road from 1998 to 2000 at a cost of about $10 million, but has never been used. Commercial trash haulers are taking county residents’ waste elsewhere, but county officials have repeatedly called the empty facility a “safety net” against higher costs being imposed at other landfills.

Being offered for sale are a constructed nine-acre landfill cell with a state-approved double-lining to prevent leaks, 15 additional acres approved for landfill use, monitoring wells, associated pumps and other equipment, and a garage/administration building.

The plans approved at a meeting Tuesday in Ballston Spa, still subject to a vote by the full Board of Supervisors, would have proposals due to the county by Oct. 8. The county could then negotiate with the proposers. Officials hope to wrap the process up in December.

If county officials don’t like the offers, they are under no commitment to accept them.

“We’re going to see what the market will bear,” said Charlton Supervisor Alan Grattidge, chairman of a subcommittee on the sale. “The way this process works, we are under no obligation.”

He acknowledged the decision won’t be made in time to include any revenue guarantees in the draft 2013 county budget, which will need to be drawn up in the fall.

In addition to whatever it paid for the landfill, a buyer would need to meet environmental protection conditions and put up money toward closing the landfill once it is full.

The landfill has a Department of Environmental Conservation operating permit, and DEC will have to agree to the sale or lease.

Grattidge said he expects significant money to be offered.

“It’s a very valuable asset, just because of the cost to build a facility like that,” he said.

One condition county officials set is that “a majority” of waste be from Saratoga County or the immediately surrounding counties.

A draft solicitation released in April drew comments from two large waste-handling firms, Waste Connections of Houston, Texas, and Casella Waste Systems of Rutland, Vt., that have both purchased or leased other municipal landfills. There were also comments from an engineering firm and an attorney who represented unidentified clients, Grattidge said.

“That’s what we’re seeing from the private sector,” he said.

The county could also try to coordinate its sale with Finch Paper of Glens Falls, which is considering selling its paper sludge landfill, situated on land adjacent to the county landfill.

Finch Paper has been closely following the county’s discussions and has had representatives at all the county’s meetings on the landfill, including Tuesday’s.

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