LOCKPORT – Niagara County will be leaving the landfill business as of July 3.
The Refuse Disposal District board, comprising county legislators, voted unanimously Monday to stop accepting waste at the district’s only active landfill, the construction and demolition, or C&D, landfill on the Lockport Bypass.
Dawn M. Timm, interim district director, said even with the costs of installing a temporary cover over the waste and the loss of revenue from disposal fees, the July 3 shutdown will save the county about $100,000 for the rest of this year.
Four employees assigned to the landfill, all members of the county’s blue-collar union, will be kept on for about a month after the closure to work on installing the cover.
Timm said that will consist of burying the waste under about a foot of clay and soil, using material the county has been stockpiling and equipment it already owns.
County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz, who recommended the shutdown a year ago, said that while the facility will close July 3, operation might end at the end of July or in August. After that, the four workers will receive layoff notices but will have the option of transferring into the Public Works Department.
Commissioner Kevin P. O’Brien said he has five vacancies on his highway crews and would be able to take the former landfill workers.
“It’s their option how they wish to proceed,” Glatz said.
Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, made sure the motion the board voted on Monday did not promise new jobs to the four workers. “I can’t support that,” he said.
The employment future of the sole remaining employee at the district, a clerical worker, also is in question, Timm said.
Timm had presented an analysis to the refuse board in late April, asserting that former District Director Richard P. Pope manipulated his budgets to make it look like the C&D landfill was profitable.
In the 2012 budget, Pope allocated 52 percent of the district’s personnel costs to the C&D landfill, spreading the remainder of the costs among the three closed landfills, two in Lockport and one in Wheatfield, which the district is required to monitor.
Pope was placed on administrative leave Nov. 1 after being accused of violating county policies on residency and personal use of county vehicles. He resigned Jan. 2.
When Timm, the county’s environmental science coordinator, took over, her analysis of where the work actually was done showed that 81 percent of the district’s labor actually was performed at C&D. Allotting the personnel costs in that matter produced a $415,000 operating loss at C&D for 2012.
“Business was down 12 percent so far this year,” Timm said.
She said she will seek bids for a permanent cap for the landfill this winter, with hopes that the work can be done next May.
Last October, Clough Harbour & Associates, in a report prepared for Pope, estimated that the cost of capping the landfill would be $1.2 million. “I think that’s a solid number,” Timm said Tuesday.