By Debra J. Groom
A report will be issued by the end of May on how Oswego County can close four of its transfer stations by the end of 2015.
Department of Solid Waste Director Frank Visser said he, County Executive Philip Church and County Attorney Richard Mitchell have been directed by the county Legislature to come up with a plan to permanently close the transfer stations in Hannibal, Hastings, Oswego and Pulaski. Only Bristol Hill in Volney would remain open.
The report will be presented to the county Legislature’s Infrastructure, Facilities and Technology Committee.
Visser said the Legislature wants to see if the transfer stations can be closed because they are increasing “expensive” to operate.
He said they are supposed to be close to self sustaining, meaning they bring in enough money through the sale of punch cards and annual stickers to pay most of the costs of running the stations.
But he said use of the transfer stations has been on the decline in the last several years. He said about 250 to 300 fewer stickers and punch cards have been purchased each year, while costs to run the stations have increased.
The transfer stations are places where people bring their garbage. There are three ways to pay:
- Weigh and pay, in which people pay by the amount of garbage (by the ton) they are dropping off. The minimum is $10.
- Punch cards. For each 13-gallon garbage bag dropped off, the homeowner gets one punch on his or her card.
- Annual sticker. This costs $165 and allows the homeowner bring unlimited amounts of household waste in for disposal.
Commercial and business enterprises also use the transfer stations, but they pay different fees.
“Garbage removal is something people expect,” Visser said. But the cost of operating the transfer stations is becoming too expensive and not enough money is coming in to pay the costs. Money to subsidize the stations’ operation comes out of the county’s general fund, which means all taxpayers are footing the bill even if they don’t use the stations.
This month at the Infrastructure, Facilities and Technology Committee, Visser gave a report on how to reduce the transfer stations’ drain on the county budget. He is proposing closing each transfer station one day a week beginning July 1.
His suggested shutdown schedule shows Hannibal being closed Monday, Pulaski on Tuesday, Hastings Wednesday, Oswego Thursday and Bristol Friday. With savings in personnel (three positions will be cut), benefits and electric and heat, Visser believes $189,845 will be saved.
He also proposes some fee increases for the transfer stations that would go into effect Jan. 1, 2015. They are:
- Tipping fees at the landfill and Energy Resource Facility up from $62 to $65
- Construction and demolition debris fees for major haulers increase from $46 to $50.
- Weigh and pay at the transfer stations increase from $105 to $125.
- Alternate Daily Cover fee increase from $25 to $30. This includes mostly contaminated soil.
Visser said based on quantities disposed of in 2013, these new fees would generate almost $500,000.
Visser said the Infrastructure, Facilities and Technology Committee approved the fee increases and one-day-week closures. If the Finance Committee approves those measures this week, the full Legislature will vote on the issues May 15.