County Moves Forward With Capital Project Plans

OSWEGO COUNTY, NY – Spending nearly a million dollars now, the county is working to create a system to recover ferrous metals from the ash at the Energy Recovery Facility.

Once established, the system will allow the county to rake in revenues that have been poured into the county landfill for years. In line to receive a recycling grant for the project, officials say the system will pay for itself in a short amount of time.

The Oswego County Legislature voted to establish a capital project for a Ferrous Metal Recovery System at ERF during its August meeting. Discussions about the system started approximately a year ago, under the advisement of Frank Visser, director of the county’s solid waste department.

Visser explained that revenues for the metals were conservatively estimated between $250,000 and $350,000 per year based on the market value of ferrous and the predicted amount of metals that could be recovered from the county‘s ash.

The project is considered a recycling project and is eligible for matching funding through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recycling fund. Visser noted that it has been put on a waiting list for a grant.

“It may be two to three years before this money becomes available,” Visser said in an informational memo that was sent to county lawmakers. He pointed out, however, that the county needs to fund the project up front to be eligible for state’s 50 percent reimbursement.

Under current market conditions, the anticipated revenues coupled with the grant money are anticipated to pay for the costs of the project in less than two years. Visser noted that the county will also increase its recycling rate by approximately 2,000 tons per year and eliminate that amount of material from the landfill.

The total of low bids received for the system came in at $852,710. The cost for the construction administration by the consultant is $18,800. Factoring in a 10 percent contingency allowance of $88,490, the total capital project cost came in at $960,000.

County treasurer John Kruk recommended paying for the project from the unappropriated general fund balance, rather than bonding.

“Since it appears there is a short payback and since the interest on the county’s fund balance is at 2 percent, it does not appear prudent to spend $150,000 to $250,000 on a bond issue at approximately 4 percent,” Visser explained.

Legislator Kimberly Seager, R-Phoenix, said that other counties would not have that luxury.

“Because of the foresight of this legislature, we are able to fund this, rather than borrowing,” Seager said. “It makes more sense to pay now, instead of borrowing… and paying additional money.”

Legislator Michael Kunzwiler, D-Oswego, cited additional benefits.

“This also adds a revenue stream,” Kunzwiler said, noting that it is another step the county can take to make its solid waste department self sufficient.

“We are always looking for revenue streams that are not coming through taxes,” he said.

The county unanimously supported the request, authorizing the transfer for the capital project with a maximum allowance of $960,000.