By CAROLINE MURRAY
JOHNSTOWN -- Montgomery County secured Fulton County's landfill as a location to transfer its waste once the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority ends.
The Fulton County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution authorizing a contract between the two counties for use of their landfill during a public meeting Monday, but not before heading to an hour-long executive session.
"Even though we were in executive session quite a long time, I think everyone got every question answered, and I think everyone is satisfied with it," said Chairman Richard Argotsinger, supervisor of Mayfield.
The 10-year inter-municipal agreement says that Montgomery County will pay the Fulton County direct haul rate of $33 a ton, plus a fee of between 12 and 15 percent, which amounts to about $38 a ton.
"I think it is a very fair deal for both counties actually," Argotsinger said.
He added there will be additional costs for Montgomery County to transfer the waste to Fulton County. "I hope that everyone keeps in mind the tipping rate for the garbage in Montgomery County is not the total rate Montgomery County will be charging other municipalities," he said.
The additional cost is not included in the tipping fee. In past reports, Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said the next step is determining the transfer process.
Montgomery County could either create a department within the county, or look into a public-private partnership, depending on what would be the most cost effective.
Argotsinger said Fulton County will not provide this service, and therefore will not get paid for it.
"When you have your garbage can out in front of your house it won't just miraculously dump into the Fulton County landfill. There is a lot in between there that Montgomery County is going to have to go through with the other municipalities," Argotsinger said.
Johnstown town Supervisor Nancy MacVean was the only official to vote against the inter-municipal agreement Monday. MacVean said she was worried that once Montgomery received the county's approval, other counties would want to take advantage of the deal, and lower the life expectancy of the site.
"I would hate for it (Fulton County) to be called the garbage county," MacVean said.
Johnstown resident Elizabeth "Liz" Russo spoke publicly to the board before the resolution was passed.
Russo said she and her husband are also concerned about the life expectancy of the landfill by adding Montgomery County's trash. Russo was also anxious about the odor the additional garbage trucks would carry while passing along Main Street in Johnstown.
"What effect will the increased truck traffic have on current plans to renovate and beautify local businesses and attract more people to our downtown area?" asked Russo. "What, besides tipping fees, does Montgomery offer to us in exchange for the great benefit we will provide to them?"
Officials attempted to address the questions and concerns before the meeting was adjourned.
Solid Waste Department Director Jeffrey Bouchard reviewed a sheet he created to explain the status of Fulton County's landfill, and the benefits of adding Montgomery County's waste to the location.
Bouchard said the site still has 60 years remaining, or 7 million cubic yards of space left.
He said that when the landfill was originally designed 24 years ago, it was estimated to have a 75-year life expectancy.
"We've now been in existence for 24 and half years and our capacity currently shows 60 years' addition, so we are looking at an 85-year capacity because of the way we have handled waste coming into our facility," Bouchard said.
The sheet also explained that originally, a permit application to the state estimated that Fulton County waste alone would amount to 100,000 tons per year; however, it is only averaging 76,000 tons.
The added garbage would be a benefit for the landfill's future because it would create a proper proportion for what Bouchard described as "the waste to dry mixture."
According to the sheet, last year, the landfill used bulking and cover soils to balance the wet/dry proportions of incoming waste.
"These soils took up over 52,000 cubic yards of space, representing zero dollars in revenue and a loss of valuable space," Bouchard said.
Regarding traffic in Johnstown, Bouchard said approximately three loads would be hauled to the site in addition to the current transportation.
Johnstown 3rd Ward Supervisor John "Jack" Callery said although he was skeptical at first, he admitted to having a change of heart halfway through the meeting.
"I was strongly opposed to this earlier in the day, but this information is very valuable -- it certainly helped me," Callery said. "I think it is a win-win."