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Sun., Oct. 4
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Fayad ‘cautiously optimistic’ that county won’t implement additional per-ton surcharge


MASSENA — Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad said Friday that while he hopes that the St. Lawrence County Legislature will not implement a surcharge on top of its solid waste tipping fees, the village is prepared to go it alone in order to save money.

“I’m cautiously optimistic. I would like to give the majority of the legislators the benefit of the doubt that they’ll do the right thing for the populous of the county, but if they don’t, I’m going to do what’s best for the populous of Massena,” said Mr. Fayad, who has been attending Legislature meetings regularly since the discussion of increasing garbage tipping fees began several months ago.

Mr. Fayad said the village pays the county $122 per ton. Private haulers, he said, pay $131 per ton, and private individuals are billed $160 per ton, fees that Mr. Fayad said are far higher than they need to be.

“They’re trying to shift the burden from the county to the populace,” he said of the proposed waste generator fee.

According to data provided by county officials to Mr. Fayad, that fee would be an additional $18.50 per ton, based on its current tonnage. Should the amount of trash collected by the county increase up to 30,000 tons per year, the fee would drop to $5.50 per ton, but should the amount of trash collected decrease to 18,000 tons per year, the fee is slated to increase to $54 per ton, Mr. Fayad said.

“What do you think the trend is?” Mr. Fayad asked. “It’s going down, and as it continues to drop, (the surcharge) is only going to go up.”

Should the county implement the increased fees, Mr. Fayad said, he is prepared to no longer use the county’s trash hauling service. He said he could save “at least $100,000 per year” by hiring a third-party hauler or having village crews haul the trash to a landfill.

Mr. Fayad said that should the village decide to haul its own waste, it would need to purchase a trash compactor, tractors and trailers and potentially a site for a transfer station, costing roughly $2.5 million.

With a 10-year payback, Mr. Fayad said, the village would be looking at payments of $578,000 per year, something he said it isn’t likely to approve.

Should the village open its own transfer station and allow surrounding communities to use it, the payments would increase to $1.1 million per year, but could be recouped by charging a tipping fee of less than $100 per ton, well below what the county charges, Mr. Fayad said.

“How come I could do it for so much less?” he said.

Mr. Fayad also said that based on current data, the village of Massena is responsible for 16 percent of St. Lawrence County’s waste, a figure that would translate to a loss of $488,000 for the county if the village no longer uses the county’s service.

If the village were to open its own transfer station and the surrounding communities that currently use the county’s site in Massena were to switch to the village’s station, Mr. Fayad said, that would translate to a loss of 44 percent of the county’s total tonnage. Such a loss would decrease the department’s revenues by roughly $1.4 million, he said.

Over the next few months, the county will work on how much it would charge haulers who redirect some of their loads from the Development Authority of the North Country-operated landfill in Rodman to a St. Lawrence County transfer site and how long it might guarantee a particular price in return for the increased tonnage.

The county also may ask a consultant to develop an analysis of how the costs of solid waste should be distributed. The Solid Waste Department is considered an enterprise fund — meaning users of the transfer stations pay for most of its costs — but as tonnages have slipped and costs escalate, some legislators want to change how expenses are covered, such as dealing with leachate from closed landfills, following state Department of Environmental Conservation guidelines on recycling and various administrative costs they believe affect everyone who generates waste.

“We have the responsibility of making sure we’re charging everyone equally, and it’s not happening now,” Legislator Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, said at a Wednesday meeting. “It’s the bottom line of solid waste we have to charge for. When one-third of the waste generators are paying all the common costs, you can’t get past that emergency.”

Mr. Morrill has proposed increasing a surcharge for direct haulers to the DANC landfill in Jefferson County from $4.50 per ton to $18.50 per ton. The bulk of the increase, $13 per ton, would be a new surcharge to help the county cover its underused transfer stations. The existing $4.50-per-ton fee to cover leachate removal would increase to $5.50 per ton.

While the direct haulers call the surcharge a tax, Mr. Morrill said it is a user fee that he expects the companies would pass on to their customers, who previously have avoided certain expenses that patrons of the transfer stations have paid.

Mr. Fayad said the county is creating the fee in an attempt to make it look like haulers, not the county lawmakers, are increasing people’s garbage disposal bills.

“The haulers will charge that back to their customers,” he said. “I’m vehemently against the correlation of any surcharge to the total tonnage in the county.”

While St. Lawrence County is arguing that it needs to collect the fee in order to pay for the Solid Waste Department, Mr. Fayad suggested that other changes should be made.

“The county is saying they need this to be made whole, but in the business world you look for efficiencies and ways to streamline that’s best for the entire business and not just one department.”

“If this continues, at some point in the near future, the village of Massena will have to take a stand, and that would be through either hauling our own waste or hiring a third-party hauler,” Mr. Fayad said.

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