LOCKPORT – The shutdown of the last active landfill operated by the Niagara County Refuse Disposal District is under serious consideration.
In a meeting Monday, the district board, made up of county legislators, heard a presentation on options to close the construction and demolition debris landfill off the Lockport Bypass.
The district also monitors two closed landfills, Landfill 1 in Lockport and Landfill 2 in Wheatfield.
District Director Richard P. Pope said the construction and demolition – or C&D – debris landfill operates at a profit, about $220,000 last year. But the district as a whole needs tax revenue to make ends meet, because of the cost of environmental monitoring of the other two landfills, each costing about $300,000 a year. The district has about $2 million in cash reserves.
County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz wouldn’t say what his 2013 budget, to be released Nov. 15, will say about the landfill. But William Rutland, head of the county’s blue-collar union, said the word is already out that the C&D landfill is to be closed and two of the district’s eight employees are to be laid off.
Legislator Jason A. Zona, D-Niagara Falls, said he wants the county to get out of the landfill business, but not immediately.
“This is wrong,” Zona said. “There’s no reason to lay off employees now for a piece of the budget that makes a profit.”
“Isn’t the objective to reduce the burden to the taxpayers?” asked Legislature Vice Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville. He said monitoring commitments mean the other workers can’t be laid off.
“There are a lot of businesses that depend on this landfill,” said Legislator Peter E. Smolinski, R-North Tonawanda.
CHA, formerly Clough Harbour Associates, was paid $7,500 for a report on shutdown options. Zona complained that the board never voted on that hiring, which Pope said was done on the orders of Glatz and District Chairman John Syracuse, R-Newfane.
As about 20 union members looked on, CHA Vice President Christopher Burns said at current disposal rates, it would take 1.3 years to bring in enough waste to shape the 4.6-acre landfill appropriately to apply a state-mandated cap design and shut it down.
He said at the current price of $64 a ton, the county would collect about $960,000 in revenue, but the cost of the cap would be slightly over $1 million.
Another option would be to keep operating for four years and move 30,000 cubic yards of waste each year to Landfill 1 to help repair its leaking cap. Burns said the district would take in $2.88 million during that time.
The final option is to simply stop C&D operations and use a bulldozer to shape the landfill in preparation for the cap. That would take a month and cost $100,000 before the capping cost.
Legislature Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport, said Burns’ figures don’t include the costs of continued operations in terms of personnel, fuel and equipment. “If they were net [costs], it would be an easy decision,” he said.
It would take about five years to take in enough waste to bring the landfill to the maximum height allowed under the county’s permit from the state, the Wendel engineering firm estimated earlier this year.