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Editorials: Hike tipping fees, not taxes

Editorials: Hike tipping fees, not taxes

City's landfill customers, not residents, should shoulder the burden

The Albany Common Council has been balking at Mayor Jerry Jennings’ request to borrow millions of dollars to pay for the expansion of the Rapp Road landfill — so the city can continue the profitable garbage operation the state gave it permission for last summer. The city is broke, and desperately needs the roughly $13 million a year the operation brings in, but asking taxpayers to pay for the expansion is another matter.

A majority of the council wanted the municipalities and private haulers who benefit from the operation’s reasonable tipping fees (between $47 and $52 per ton) to pay $10 per ton extra, but has now reportedly agreed to an assessment of half that amount now, with another $5 to be tacked on over a five-year period. It’s a decent compromise, but the council should make sure the mayor’s on board before it does its part.

Lest anyone forget, the dump — which has been an environmental nightmare for nearby residents, as well as the adjacent Pine Bush Preserve — wouldn’t need expanding if not for the city’s garbage business. By far, most of the garbage that’s been dumped in the landfill over the past two decades has been outsiders’, coming from all over the state and, in some cases, beyond. Obviously, to attract the tonnage need to generate the kind of money the city has needed, it has had to offer some highly competitive tipping fees.

So letting the tippers pay some of the freight associated with the expansion, the closure of part of the dump that’s reached capacity and the $18 million Pine Bush reclamation the city had to agree to get the Department of Environmental Conservation’s permission for “one last” expansion — the fourth in 20 years — makes sense.

If the city’s customers balk and decide to take their business elsewhere, there will undoubtedly be others who’ll step in. And if there were less garbage coming in, it would cost less to operate the landfill and take longer to fill it up — not a problem.

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