Montgomery County is cleared for dumping.
At its regular meeting Monday afternoon, the Fulton County Board of Supervisors approved a 10-year contract allowing Montgomery County to dump its annual 30,000 garbage tonnage in the Fulton County landfill on Mud Road.
The vote came down overwhelmingly in favor of the trash contract, but not without some discussion in a lengthy executive session.
“Earlier today I was against this,” said Johnstown 3rd Ward Supervisor John Callery, “but now I have all the facts. … I think it’s a win-win for both counties.”
For Montgomery County, permission to bring trash to Mud Road comes just in time. With the Montgomery Otsego Schoharie Solid Waste Authority’s 25-year service contract just months from ending, Montgomery County was in need of a speedy trash solution.
County Executive Matt Ossenfort negotiated a 10-year contract with Fulton County to pay between 12 and 15 percent more per ton than the regular in-county rate. Basically, Montgomery County will pay roughly $38 a ton to put trash in Fulton County, with the rate going up slightly over time. That contract was approved Monday.
In a past Gazette interview, Ossenfort called it a temporary solution while the county figures out a more permanent answer.
The pros and cons for Fulton County are a bit more complicated. At Monday’s meeting were Liz and Paul Russo, Johnstown residents armed with a list of reasons Montgomery County garbage should stay out of their county.
“Nobody wants a dump in their backyard,” Liz Russo said.
Mainly, they fear the landfill might fill too fast with Montgomery County trucking in additional tonnage. Because Fulton and Montgomery counties are roughly the same size, Liz Russo argued that the landfill will fill twice as fast over the next 10 years. That concern was shared by several supervisors, including Callery.
But there are a number of factors at work, explained Fulton County Solid Waste Director Jeff Bouchard. Right now the Mud Road landfill isn’t actually getting as much trash as it’s designed for — roughly 76,000 tons instead of 100,000. That tonnage is also the wrong mixture of wet fill to dry fill, which means Bouchard’s men have to ad regular dirt to the process. Montgomery County’s trash will likely even out the mixture, allowing for a denser pack.
Currently, the Mud Road landfill has roughly 60 years left of life expectancy. Bouchard calculates 10 years of Montgomery County’s trash will only shorten that span by two years — and there are some big upsides.
“We’ll make $10 million in 10 years,” Callery said. “We’ll be able to lower landfill rates for our businesses.”
That was the information Bouchard shared in executive session, according to Callery. Everyone seemed convinced, except town of Johnstown Supervisor Nancy MacVean.
“It makes perfect financial sense,” she said, “but I hate to see everyone else’s trash in our landfill. We’re trying to brand our county now. I’d hate to see Fulton County branded as the trash county.”
She worried a contract approved with Montgomery County could set a precedent, affording Schoharie County, which is also searching for a post-MOSA plan, a place to bring its trash.
Her worries, though, were overpowered by the weight of an estimated $10 million in additional revenue.
The contract allows for either county to back out of the deal by paying a $100,000 fee.