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December 19, 2014

County to hire ash for trash help

 

By COLLEEN SIUZDAK
Staff Reporter
csiuzdak@cortlandstandard.net

Cortland County legislators at Thursday’s session unanimously approved hiring a firm to start negotiating a contract in the ash for trash partnership with Onondaga County.
The deal would still need to be approved by both Legislatures but by hiring a firm to help negotiate and draft a contract, the Legislature intends to ensure any deal benefits Cortland County in the long run.
Legislators Tom Hartnett (D-LD3), Mary Ann Discenza (D-LD6), Gordon Wheelock (D-Homer), Joseph Steinhoff (R-Cortlandville) and Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil) were absent.
The county will pay New Hartford-based Gerhardt, LLC, up to $6,500 to write up a draft contract pertaining to the ash for trash deal. Now that the resolution is passed, the firm can start working on the draft.
Legislator Newell Willcox (R-Homer) said during session the money allocated may not be enough to get the best deal out of the partnership.
“ I was wondering if $6,500 is gonna be enough money to go against the big boys in Onondaga County,” Willcox said. “I don’t think it is.”
During a special Solid Waste Committee meeting Thursday afternoon, Cortland County officials agreed a specialized firm was needed for its expertise in the scope of the work needed to be done.
Legislature Chair Susan Briggs(R-Cortlandville) said during the meeting she supports hiring the firm.Negotiating a contract with OnondagaCounty Resource Recovery Agency, which is the entity that owns the incinerator, would be the next step.
“We’re at the point now if this is something the Legislature wants to move forward with, we really need to iron out the agreement,” Briggs said Thursday afternoon.
Legislator John Troy (D-LD1) emphasized that nothing has been decided on but the framework of the deal should be started.
“We do want to get the best possible deal that we can,” Troy said. “I don’t want to give the public the impression that ash for trash is a done deal.”
Highway Superintendent Phil Krey agreed that the firm was well qualified to start work on the contract, also noting that nothing has been finalized.
“The thought was it would be wise to have someone who has a lot ofexperience to assist us in negotiations, and this firm is,” Krey said.
Some county residents who attended the legislative session Thursday night asked for other alternatives to beconsidered.
In other ash for trash business, Jeremy Boylan, clerk of the Legislature, said during the Solid Waste Committee meeting Thursday afternoon that the state Department of Environmental Conservation is asking the county to sign a permit that would increase the capacity of the landfill to receive90,000 tons of solid waste annually instead of the 44,500 tons it is permitted to receive now. The solid waste capacity would include the ash.
Briggs said she did not sign the permit because she wants to make sure the partnership is what the Legislature wants to do.
“I think it’s only fair to them(OCRRA) to be upfront and let them know we will not agree to something like that prior to the whole partnership being agreed,” Briggs said.
Submitting the permit now would expedite the process, Boylanexplained.
Waiting for the state environmental review process to play out means the permit may not be able to be submitted until March or April 2015 and then it would require a 30-day comment period, Boylan said.
Both counties are in the public comment phase of reviewing the state Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of the plan. The comment period ends Jan. 17 at 4:30 p.m.
A public hearing on the DEIS will start at 6 p.m. Jan. 5 in Legislativechambers.
Legislators did not move to sign the permit.

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