Saratoga County

Landfill bidders make cases at Saratoga County hearing

The two top bidders wanting to buy the Saratoga County landfill each advocated for their own proposa

The two top bidders wanting to buy the Saratoga County landfill each advocated for their own proposal and criticized the other during a public hearing Wednesday in Ballston Spa.

Both Capital Region Landfills Inc. and Finch Paper LLC told the county Board of Supervisors that their proposals for the unused county landfill in Northumberland were the best.

Capital Region Landfills, a subsidiary of national waste hauler Waste Connections, said the Finch Paper revenue projections were speculative.

Finch said much the same about Capital Region Landfills’ proposal.

The county’s landfill privatization consultant, Hans Arnold, believes that the Capital Region Landfills proposal would yield about $37.4 million over 20 years for the county, while the Finch proposal would yield $39 million.

Waste Connections, however, disputes Arnold’s figures.

“Once the dust settles … [Arnold] will realize our proposal is actually $41 million, which would make it higher,” said Scott Schreiber, a Waste Connections representative who spoke at the hearing.

He also said Finch has overestimated what it can charge for waste in the current disposal market. The company says it will get an average of $55 per ton, splitting any amount above $38 per ton with the county.

The payments to the county, under either proposal, would come from a combination of up-front cash for buying the landfill and payments from a portion of the tipping fees collected once the landfill is open.

Finch Paper representatives attended the hearing but did not speak. However, the company submitted a letter criticizing the Waste Connections proposal, which includes provisions for expanding the existing unused landfill to as much as 204 acres.

Finch’s proposal “is not dependent on any additional land acquisitions, significant increases in the landfill footprint or disposal capacity or other highly speculative components,” wrote Robert J. Baron II, Finch’s chief financial officer.

Finch, which employs more than 600 people at its Glens Falls paper mill, already operates a paper-manufacturing sludge landfill on land next to the county site. Its proposal is to start using the county landfill for both paper sludge and municipal waste and eventually to build a new landfill section, called a “valley fill,” on the six acres between the two facilities.

“We’re not out of landfill space, but we still need that long-term assurance,” Finch spokesman John Brodt said after the hearing.

A third bidder, a division of Casella Resource Solutions of Rutland, Vt., has offered the county $9.5 million to use the landfill for organic composting, incinerator ash, contaminated soil and paper mill sludge. That proposal no longer appears to be under serious consideration.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Alan R. Grattidge, R-Charlton, said the landfill privatization subcommittee will consider the public hearing comments before making a decision on which of the proposals to recommend.

“If the timing is right, the recommendation would come at the June Public Works Committee meeting,” he said.

The county is looking to sell the landfill on Kobor Road to make money and ease financial pressures on the county. It was built in the late 1990s for $8.7 million but has never been used. The Board of Supervisors decided in late 2011 to try to sell the facility, beginning the current bidding process.

The county owns 113 acres at the site, but only nine acres of landfill space have so far been constructed.

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