The proposed sale of the Saratoga County landfill to Finch Paper won a critical procedural vote today, with approval by the Board of Supervisors’ Law and Finance Committee.
The proposed sale of the landfill in Northumberland was approved 5-1 at a meeting in Ballston Spa after winning unanimous approval Tuesday from the county’s Public Works Committee.
Halfmoon Republican Mindy Wormuth cast the lone voted against the measure, which includes Finch paying about $200,000 per year to the town of Northumberland as a host community benefit.
“I have always thought Halfmoon should have gotten host community benefits for the [county] sewer plant,” she explained afterward. “They just expanded it, and when I asked about host community benefits, I was told that’s not how we do things.”
Wormuth said she also objects to the plan for the full board to vote on the sale next Tuesday as a routine resolution, without any special presentation to all supervisors. “This is a $10 million asset we’re selling,” she said.
Others, however, were effusive in praise of the sale, which county officials think will generate $40 million in revenue for the county and its municipalities over a 20-year period.
“This agreement is a true public-private partnership that will bring significant and needed revenue to the county and new economic opportunities for one of our region’s most important employers,” said county board Chairman Alan R. Grattidge, R-Charlton.
Finch, which operates a major paper mill with 650 employees in downtown Glens Falls, would combine the county landfill with a paper sludge landfill it already operates on adjoining land.
On Tuesday, the Public Works Committee recommended the Finch proposal over competing proposals from two waste hauling companies, Waste Connections of The Woodlands, Texas, and Casella Resource Solutions of Rutland, Vt.
Waste Connections offered the county a comparable amount of money but would have sought to expand the size of the existing landfill — almost certainly provoking a court fight with the town of Northumberland.
“There was considerable doubt on the part of the county landfill subcommittee whether the proposal ever could or should be realized,” said Hans Arnold, the county’s landfill consultant.
Northumberland officials fought doggedly in the 1990s to keep the county landfill from being built, eventually losing the battle. The county completed construction in 2000 but has never opened the landfill.
Supervisors decided in 2012 to sell it to generate revenue and relieve budget pressures.
Northumberland Supervisor Bill Peck said the town can accept the Finch proposal, given its existing track record with the town. “Selling the county landfill to Finch means that we can continue to deal with a local company and I am confident they will continue to be sensitive to the town’s concerns,” he said.
For Finch, the landfill will provide a long-term site for disposal of its paper mill sludge.
“We are pleased that we could develop a plan that meets the county’s solid waste and financial goals while providing our business with a long-term disposal site for our paper manufacturing residuals and strengthening our business and the 2,200 direct and indirect jobs Finch provides in the region,” Finch President Deba Mukherjee said in a statement.
Under the proposal, Finch would start accepting locally generated municipal waste at the landfill. The county would receive a share of tipping fees, estimated at about $1.5 million per year, and distribute half of that to towns, cities and villages in a form of revenue-sharing.