To the Editor and to the Oswego County Legislature:
Mr. Chairman, Honorable Legislators, Ladies and Gentlemen:
We would like to address the issues of fairness and equality as they pertain to your decision regarding the potential closure of the Hannibal Transfer Station.
You may plan to reduce the size and cost of County Government, but let’s face it – it’s not happening. Our government is expanding at all levels as you seek to provide certain basic services to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people in exchange for taxation. This being the case, we firmly believe that services should be administered without prejudice and with equal opportunity to all of our towns and cities.
For years, we have watched as state lawmakers funneled our tax dollars downstate. Likewise, those of us west of the Oswego River watch as our tax dollars are funneled to other parts of Oswego County. Currently, a pedestrian sidewalk on a bridge in the Town of Richland (Pulaski) is being given serious consideration with an anticipated expenditure of $400,000. We have to ask how many Oswego County residents will benefit from this walkway if charged to Oswego County taxpayers?
We contend that Oswego County government is guilty of focusing services in the east side – making fewer services available to those of us west of the river. One service we have enjoyed is the convenience of our transfer station.
We’ve read that the anticipated closure is a business decision. We don’t presume to fully comprehend all the inner workings of Oswego County Government. But, we do know how to run multiple businesses. The cost of doing business includes all outgoing costs including capital improvements, maintenance, payroll, utilities, etc. These expenditures are (hopefully) offset by income – in this instance, income from tipping fees & permits, and the sale of sand & gravel at the County Route 7 facility. Just a few years ago, nearly ½ million dollars was spent on capital improvements & remodels to the Pulaski & Hastings facilities alone – and the people on the west side of the county helped pay the bill.
Let us ask you this – would you deny county residents in Redfield, Boylston and Orwell social services or road maintenance because it costs more to send a County Health nurse or a highway dept vehicle to the northern reaches of our county? This situation is no different. Some are saying that it costs more to provide services at the county’s only west-side transfer station. We submit that this is not the case when actual dollars spent and income received, are factored in. We find it impossible to believe that only 15% of our residents are utilizing the Hannibal Transfer Station, as has been reported. Continuous traffic in and out is witnessed and reported by neighbors of the facility. Perhaps 15% represents the percentage of residents who purchase yearly permits – because we know many people who pay as they go, rather than purchase yearly permits
When the LaRue Christie property on County Route 7 was purchased years ago for the location of a west-side transfer station, the decision caused controversy and anxiety to the people – literally pitting neighbor against neighbor. It was argued that this would provide a much-needed service to the people. Are you telling us now that this was just a mistake?
While some perceive the transfer station closure as a mere “inconvenience” to west county residents, we submit that it will create major hardship, causing budgetary increases to the towns and cities.
Surely, the Oswego City and Fulton City legislators can’t be pleased with the thought of increased debris flying out of vehicles onto their city streets and the increased cost of removal. More than that, this closure represents another inequality of services to the people on the west side.
We simply ask that you seek an equitable solution to budget issues. If your goal is self-sufficiency in the solid waste department, take a path of self-sufficiency for the entire department – with fair & equitable distribution of services across all 5 facilities. Seek alternatives to permanent closure. You’ve made major investments of our taxpayer money to improve facilities east of the Oswego River.
There are more than 20,000 of us on the west side. Please consider a modest investment in our only west-side facility by merely keeping it open. Cut back the number a days it is open, reduce employee costs, seek a private investor opportunities, etc. We believe that these measures, coupled with increased efficiency and a modest fee increases (if necessary), will result in a self-sustaining service to your constituents.
Please don’t desert the people west of the Oswego River. Don’t make us scapegoats for an easy budget cut, so that funds can be funneled elsewhere. We urge you to do what’s right. Do what’s fair and equitable. Keep the west-side transfer station open unless a satisfactory alternative can be proposed – for the benefit of all.
Jack and Faye Beckwith