SARATOGA COUNTY — Saratoga County supervisors plan to give each town and city in the county an additional $20,000 annually from revenue the county is collecting from use of its former landfill, county officials said Tuesday.
"Saratoga County is in a position where we are able to invest in our growing communities," said county Board of Supervisors' Chairman Kevin Tollisen, R-Halfmoon.
Under the plan, which was approved Tuesday by the board's Public Works Committee and will be voted on next Tuesday by the full board, $420,000 each year in landfill revenue will be distributed to the 19 towns and two cities, with each receiving $20,000 per year for the next 20 years.
"The townships can use the money any way they want," said Ballston Supervisor Tim Sczcepaniak, chairman of the Public Works Committee.
The payments will be coming from $1.5 million the county anticipates collecting annually from use of the former county landfill, located on Peters Road in Northumberland.
The county build the landfill in the late 1990s, but never used it. In 2013, it sold the landfill to Finch Paper Co. of Glens Falls, which was already operating a landfill for paper mill sludge on adjoining land. Last year, Finch Paper in turn sold the landfill to Waste Management, a large commercial waste disposal company that is burying both paper sludge and municipal waste there.
Although the landfill cost about $10 million to build, the county sold it for $4 million at a time when the county was in fiscal distress. But one of the provisions in the agreement allowed the county to receive $6.28 per ton as a tipping fee for waste that goes into the landfill, which comes to about $1.5 million in annual revenue.
Of that money, County Administrator Spencer Hellwig said $187,000 each year goes to the town of Northumberland as a host community benefit, and the balance is split among the county general fund and the municipalities.
The county is now proposing to dip into its share -- about $657,000 annually -- to make additional payments to the towns. County officials said conservative spending policies are allowing them to give the towns and cities money originally intended for the county.
The $20,000 is being distributed to each town regardless of its size, marking one of the few instances in which small towns receive an equal benefit with large population towns like Clifton Park and Halfmoon.
"By providing these funds unrestricted, each community can decide how to make the most impact and best investment for their constituents," Tollisen said.
In Ballston, Sczcepaniak said the town may use the money to increase security measures at the Town Hall.
The money would also be used for measures like infrastructure and development planning studies, said Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett, chairman of the county's Economic Development Committee.
"Distributing funds directly to individual municipalities will make of them stronger, and hence the county stronger," Barrett said. "Public safety and infrastructure will be areas of interest for many of our municipalities."
If the supervisors approve the agreement, the funds will be distributed quarterly, starting later this year, Hellwig said.