OSWEGO, NY – Members of the Transfer Station Advisory Committee got some of their questions answered Thursday night. And, they came up with a few new ones as well.
Only 15 percent of the Oswego County households us the transfer stations, according to Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner.
That means 85 percent of county residents are subsidizing a service they do not use, he added.
He appointed a committee to examine future of the stations, including possible closure.
Some committee members have asked if operating a recycling center would help offset the costs of the transfer stations.
However, Frank Visser, the county’s director of solid waste, pointed out there are factors in play that reduce the amount of recyclables being generated.
The expanded bottle bill has reduced the amount of containers in the waste stream, he said. The reduction in printed news media means a decrease in paper, he added. And manufacturers have reduced waste by creating lighter packaging for their products.
Another question was whether methane gas can be used to generate revenue.
Landfill gas has contaminants that need to be removed before the methane can be used in commercial applications, Visser explained.
The capital and operational cost to clean up the gas cannot be justified due to the small amount of gas recovered at the landfill and the low content of methane in the gas, he said.
Making the stations “weigh and pay” isn’t viable, Visser noted.
There would be an estimated 420,000 weigh and pay transaction. That equals almost 200 transactions per hour or one transaction every 18 seconds, he pointed out.
The committee will continue to gather more information and deliberate before making any recommendations to the full legislature.
One question that came up near the close of Thursday’s meeting was whether any of the other services offered by the county makes a profit.
Many don’t, but they are services that need to be provided.
So why was the transfer stations targeted when none of the others were?
Back in the mid-2000s, there was a study done of the solid waste system. Four or five options were suggested to make it less burdensome on the taxpayers.
“It’s a service that is needed. It’s a service that’s doing well as far as the people are concerned,” one committee member said. “There are a lot of pluses to it. Trying to cut it down does not make sense. It obviously doesn’t make sense to the towns.”
Some of the other costs are not tangible because not everyone uses them; but it doesn’t mean we don’t benefit from them, Legislator Amy Tresidder explained.
“What it gets down to is, what are people willing to pay for it? How valuable is keeping the transfer stations open? It’s going to cost money and it’s going to cost more money than it’s costing now,” she said. “That is what it comes down to. How valuable are these services to people? And, how much are people really willing to pay for them?”
“Does anyone remember when the transfer stations started?” asked Hannibal Mayor Fred Kent.
“Nobody wanted them,” replied Palermo Town Supervisor Patricia Redhead.
“Nobody wanted them. They fought it. And they were free,” Kent continued. “They were free until 1992. What the heck happened?”
Instead of considering closing the stations, Kent said they should improve the Hannibal site.
“There aren’t any drive-on scales in Hannibal for waste haulers to use,” Kent said. “It’s not a level playing filed for Hannibal.”
Haulers have to unload their trailers and use a smaller scale, get the weight then load their trailer back up and then back in and dump it, he said.
“It is so inconvenient it’s unbelievable. I think money should be invested in scales out there. The west side of the river, we’re talking 20,000 people out there. Now with stations being closed one day a week, Hannibal is ready to claim some more business on the days when other stations are closed. But they don’t have the scales. They don’t have a fair chance,” he said.
The committee’s next meeting will be in July.