Supervisors Debate Use Of Recycling Revenues
Published: December 2nd, 2008
By: Melissa deCordova

NORWICH – With prices for recyclables down, and the overall economy nosediving, meeting the Chenango County Department of Public Works’ budget obligations next year could be difficult.

County supervisors who make up the Public Works Committee spent the majority of their meeting last month debating whether to hold back recycling revenues from this year in order to cover a potential loss in 2009.

The debate centered on predictions about the nation’s economy and resulted in both the county’s treasurer and legal counsel weighing in.

The committee discussed holding back the annual sweep of surplus from recycling into surplus accounts set aside for cell closure and development at the county’s Pharsalia Landfill. The intention, according to Supervisor Peter C. Flanagan, D-Preston, was to keep losses next year off the backs of taxpayers.

Flanagan made a motion to keep 2008’s recycling revenues from rolling over into the landfill account as they normally do by resolution at the conclusion of each year. His motion, and a second by Supervisor David C. Law, R-Norwich, were later rescinded, however, at the request of Treasurer William E. Evans to “keep it simple” and “wait and see.”

Prices offered for recyclables are down. With $20 a ton instead of last year’s $160 for cardboard, and $40 a ton now for scrap metal, versus $180 before the mortgage crises fallout, DPW Director Randy Gibbon said he felt certain revenue projections of nearly $200,000 in 2009 wouldn’t hold.

“We may have to start stockpiling some recyclables that are no longer saleable and then landfill them,” he said. Junk autos, for example, once worth $250 per unit, are currently worth zero.

Town of Smyrna Supervisor James J. Bays weighed in on the discussion, suggesting the marketplace would further its downward spiral. “I’m not optimistic. We are heading into some very difficult times. It’s trickling down. I think we are going to head down further.”

Committee Chairman Harry W. Conley, R-Sherburne, said, “Well, we can’t do anything about it (the economy),” to which Flanagan retorted, “I think we can. We can withhold the cushion, rather than have it sweep into surplus.”

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