Three firms submit proposals for Saratoga County landfill site
SARATOGA COUNTY The county has received proposals from three private companies interested in operating the unused county landfill in Northumberland and providing the county with needed cash in return.
Finch Paper of Glens Falls, which has an operating paper mill sludge landfill next to the county site, submitted a proposal prior to Tuesday’s deadline, as did two well-known solid waste management companies.
Casella Waste Management of Rutland, Vt., and Waste Connections Inc., a national waste handler based in The Woodlands, Texas, both submitted proposals through affiliated companies.
County officials said they expect to negotiate with all of the companies in an effort to strike the best deal for the county, and they don’t yet know whether the landfill would be leased or sold outright. Citing a section of General Municipal Law that covers solid waste negotiations, they refused to release the three companies’ proposals.
“We’re looking forward to the process of reviewing the proposals submitted and coming up with the best option for the citizens of the county,” said county Landfill Subcommittee Chairman Alan Grattidge, R-Charlton.
The current goal is for the Board of Supervisors to make a decision in December, but Grattidge said the decision timeline will depend on how negotiations go. He said the county wants to see the transaction occur in 2013.
The landfill on Kobor Road in Northumberland has been unused since the county built it in the late 1990s, at a cost of about $10 million.
The landfill was never opened despite the time and money invested in getting it built. Commercial trash haulers are taking county residents’ waste to other landfills or disposal facilities. County officials have repeatedly called the vacant landfill a “safety net” against the possibility of higher costs being imposed at other landfills.
The county has state Department of Environmental Conservation approval for using as a landfill 23 acres of a 113-acre site, right next to where Finch Paper has been burying sludge from its Glens Falls paper mill for more than a decade. Landfill space was constructed on nine of the 23 acres.
With county finances in distress because of the recession and ongoing multimillion-dollar losses at the county nursing home, county officials decided this year to sell or lease the landfill to generate revenue.
In July, the county announced it would accept proposals for buying or leasing the facility. Tuesday was the deadline for proposals. The proposals will now be evaluated by county leaders and Hans Arnold, the county’s New Hartford-based solid waste consultant.
“It marks the beginning of a contract negotiation,” Arnold said.
He said the negotiations could cover the timing and size of payments the county would receive, host community benefits for Northumberland and what revenue the county would receive if an operator were to generate energy by burning the landfill’s methane. The review will also consider each bidder’s record in operating other landfills, Arnold said.
One condition county officials set is that “a majority” of waste buried in the landfill be collected from Saratoga County or the adjoining counties.
County leaders have announced plans to build a sewage treatment plant next to the landfill. While it would serve the northern half of the county, county officials have noted that it could also handle the contaminated water that would seep from the landfill once it opened.