OSWEGO, NY – A recommendation to reduce the days county transfer stations are open came under fire at Thursday’s legislature meeting even though the issue wasn’t on the agenda.
Legislator Frank Castiglia (District 25) questioned the county’s plan to establish a capital project ($182,000) to replace a wheel loader at ERF and a fuel truck at the Bristol Hill Landfill.
“It’s a slap in the face of the taxpayers and the workers,” he said. “You’re asking to spend all this money on equipment and two resolutions down you’re going to add tipping fees and we’re looking to eliminate jobs. I know you need the equipment. But in his own words (Frank Visser, county solid waste director) said he doesn’t have any ‘major issues’ with his equipment. I would like to see this equipment put off until next year and see if we can save enough money so we can save jobs.”
“I know we’ve got to close some (transfer stations) on an alternating basis. That’s fine, he added. ”But you’re raising fees and you’re cutting back services.”
The county has a five-year plan that was put in place four years ago and this is now the fourth year of the plan; the resolution just increases the fees for the haulers (construction debris), Legislator Terry Wilbur pointed out.
The Infrastructure, Facilities and Technology Committee recommended reducing the number of days the county transfer stations will be open to the public from five and a half days to four and a half days effective July 1.
To further reduce costs, the legislature voted Thursday to abolish one light operator/highway worker I position and one laborer position as of the close of business on June 30.
If other vacancies occur within the Department of Solid Waste prior to July 1, those positions may be substituted for the two positions currently targeted, if the position is compatible and will prevent the layoff of an employee.
The possible reduction of hours of operation for the transfer stations wasn’t on the agenda for the May meeting. However, it was the topic of discussion at the public session following the meeting.
Tom Muroski told the legislators he was “asked by a lot of people to do this.” He held a petition against any changes to the stations’ operations. It had about 1,500 signatures, produced in five days, he said.
“There are many, many more of these out there. Trust me, the public doesn’t want to lose this service. What they are saying, I think, is don’t take it away and still ask me to pay for it,” he said. “We’ve been paying for it right along in our taxes. Where’s that money going to go if you close it?”
He suggested the county look at other cost-saving measures, such as early retirement incentives and doing more work at the Bristol Hill site in-house. The county could quadruple its money by recycling scrap metal, he added. He also asked why the county was shipping its recyclables to another county instead of cashing in on them itself.
The lines at the open (transfer) facilities, if one were to close, “would be phenomenal,” he said. “I’m sure DOT would have to put some sort of traffic device over at Bristol Hill Landfill, because I’m sure the lines would probably reach Palermo.”
He also cautioned legislators that this would cause a significant increase in roadside garbage.
Another speaker urged the county to put together a fact-finding committee before taking any action on the sites.
A town of Richland resident said her township has adopted a comprehensive plan, which includes beautification of the neighborhoods.
“We want to make our community inviting. Seeing trash along the road will not make it so inviting,” she said. “The closing of these stations throughout the county will cause more trash in the ditches as well as dumping on your own property, as was done for many years by farmers.”
That will create health hazards by chemicals and other toxins leaching out into the water, she added.
“Not everyone in our county is on municipal water,” she reminded the legislators.
A Hannibal resident pointed out that the county had closed the Hannibal station for one day a week and “it’s opened up again. Was there a problem? What problem did this solve? You guys ended up changing it back.”
She also asked why preventive maintenance wasn’t done so the county wasn’t faced with higher costs now. “When this started getting bad, why didn’t you fix it then? That’s like not changing the oil in your car.”