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December 14, 2009

Legislators Examine Costs of Operating Oswego County Transfer Stations

Although the proposed 2010 Oswego County budget carries no increase in the average county property tax rate, county legislators continue to look for ways to consolidate and bring down the cost of government.

“We are taking a close look across the board to see where we can save money,” said Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann, District 4, Amboy. “We need to continue to consolidate, look at lowering costs and reduce the burden on our property taxpayers.”

The Oswego County Legislature will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2010 budget at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Legislator Leemann said the county solid waste system is one area that is being considered because the county cannot charge enough in tipping fees to cover the cost of running our transfer stations.

The solid waste department operates transfer stations and recycling drop-off centers on County Route 7, Hannibal; East Mitchell Street, Oswego; Bristol Hill on Route 3, Volney; Route 11, Hastings; and County Route 2A, Pulaski. These stations run at a high cost to residents and businesses.

The Hannibal transfer station in particular “is extremely expensive to operate” because it processes much less waste than the other four stations, said Legislator Leemann.

The county charges $80 per ton to dispose of trash at the transfer stations. The Hannibal station had the highest operating cost at $226 per ton and processed 1,582 tons of trash in 2008. This means $146 per ton is subsidized. By comparison, the Pulaski transfer station accepted 5,404 tons, and operated at a cost of $124 per ton. The Oswego transfer station operated at $136 per ton; Bristol Hill operated at $168 per ton; and Hastings operated at $169 per ton.

“Closing the Hannibal station would save more than $197,000 a year,” said Legislator Leemann. “This situation was brought to my attention by Frank Visser, our solid waste department head. This is not a political decision, this is a business decision. We have to cut costs! If you had a store that was losing large amounts of money, would you keep it open?

“We realize that people who use the Hannibal station would be inconvenienced. They would have to drive about six to ten miles further to use the Volney or Oswego stations. However, residents in other outlying areas, such as Constantia, Williamstown and Redfield, are already driving longer distances to take their trash and recyclables to a transfer station.”

Household trash is taken by county trucks from the transfer stations to either the Bristol Hill Landfill or the Energy Recovery Facility for disposal. The high cost of transporting waste from the transfer station to the Energy Recovery Facility or Bristol Hill Landfill for disposal is included in the cost estimate.

“Residents and businesses who don’t use the transfer stations are heavily subsidizing the operation of the transfer stations for those who do,” said Legislator Leemann. “The Hannibal station sees the least amount of volume. Closing that station would save the county nearly $200,000 a year. It would also make the other transfer stations more efficient because they would be accepting more waste and serving more customers. I will be asking the legislature to look at that option as we finalize the budget for next year.”

Download map to review the locations of the Oswego County transfer stations.

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