November 16, 2011
Legislators favor Murray Center recycling takeover
Highway Committee unswayed by union officials’ pitch for Waste Management
After listening to a pitch from union representatives Tuesday to contract with Waste Management, legislators still favored the J.M. Murray Center proposal to take over the county recycling center operations.
The union representing two Cortland County employees who would be laid off under the J.M. Murray Center’s proposal to manage the recycling center argued against the plan Tuesday during a special Highway Committee meeting.
The Legislature will vote on the proposal at Thursday’s session.
CSEA representative Colin Cummins reiterated his theory that legislators did not consider costly variables like equipment maintenance and trash generation, when deciding to accept the J.M. Murray Center proposal.
Cummins said the other proposals would absorb the trash, eliminating a tipping fee cost of approximately $12,000 and would take over the equipment, eliminating up to $6,000 in maintenance costs.
The Highway Committee earlier this month proposed a resolution that would allow the J.M. Murray Center to take over operations at the center.
The J.M. Murray Center, Waste Management and Casella Waste Services all submitted bids to manage the recycling center.
Legislators are still unsure whether Cummins’ argument — that the Waste Management proposal would be more profitable — is correct.
Waste Management would generate about $37,993 in profits annually while the contract with the Murray Center would bring in $29,555, Cummins said.
Legislators seemed unmoved by Cummins’ argument Tuesday.
Highway Committee Chairman David Fuller (R-Cincinnatus, Taylor, Freetown and Willet) said the J.M. Murray Center could manage the facility for a year and about nine months into it the county could decide if it was a good move.
Fuller and other legislators favor keeping the Murray Center, which has a yearly contract to sort materials at the facility, involved because of the jobs it provides to individuals with disabilities.
County Administrator Martin Murphy disagrees with Cummins’ argument. Cummins said the savings of a tipping fee cost is not applicable because solid waste is one fund. Since the county owns the landfill and recycling center, paying money from one to the other makes no difference, he said.
Ernie Dodge, who oversees the J.M. Murray Center workers, stood by the proposal Tuesday. Dodge said the J.M. Murray Center would improve culling practices at the recycling center, providing information to the county about what types of material is found in compactor loads.
Dodge said the Murray Center is confident about half of what is billed as garbage is not garbage and can be reculled and sold on the market.
The center’s projected yearly loss in 2012 — $220,500, which includes debt service — would be cut to $113,000 under the J.M. Murray proposal.
The proposal would save about $150,000 in salary and fringe benefits by cutting a crew leader and an equipment operator. It would bring in about $300,000 in revenues based on a $100 per-ton price for sale of recyclables. Only one person would be laid off under the Waste Management proposal.
The county would pay the J.M. Murray Center $180,000 in monthly fees of $15,000 for its services. The Murray Center already has an approximately $138,000 annual contract to sort recyclables for the county.
Legislator John Troy (D-1st Ward) said after the meeting he was still confused by the numbers presented but prefers the Murray Center proposal. Troy said the difference in revenues between the two proposals is so slight, it is not significant.
“The two are very close and I like being able to let a local organization like the Murray Center do it rather than take an outside one like Casella or Waste Management,” Troy said.
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