The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

March 7, 2014

Counties claim assets from MOSA's dismantling

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Twenty-seven years after it was created by an act of the state Legislature, the regional trash authority known as MOSA is getting ready to tug down the curtains on its operations headquartered in Howes Cave.

The three counties involved in the public benefit corporation — Otsego, Schoharie and Montgomery — have decided to part company after what had been an often rocky partnership in the management of their solid waste operations.

The physical assets of the entity officially known as the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority — the transfer stations and the heavy equipment — will likely become the property of the counties in which they are currently situated.

Meanwhile, the authority’s remaining liquid assets now sit at about $4 million, officials said. That money is expected to be divided by the respective stakes in the operation, with Montgomery at 42 percent, Otsego at 40 percent and Schoharie taking the remaining 18 percent, officials said.

There is also a human dimension to the dissolution of MOSA. The authority has 20 employees, including 17 full-time staffers. They will be out of a job this spring, most likely on or about April 30, said Dennis Heaton, the authority’s executive director, who is among those who will be losing their employment.

“The goal right now is to have a smooth transition and to make this as easy for everybody involved as possible,” Heaton said in an interview. “We have a really good team doing what they need to be doing. I’d like to thank them all for doing their job so well.”

Heaton said the MOSA office building is expected to be acquired by the government of Schoharie County. The county office building was badly damaged in the flood that swamped the village of Schoharie in 2011, and the county has determined it could use some additional space, he said.

A final dissolution of MOSA will require the state Legislature to pass a bill now moving through committees in Albany, No opposition has been raised, Heaton and other officials said.

The three counties have all issued requests for proposals to lure a firm to help them manage the waste collected within their respective county borders.

Four proposals arrived this week for Otsego County’s business, said Otsego County Rep. Linda Rowinski, D-city of Oneonta, who heads the county’s Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns Committee.

What they counties will do with the cash they acquire from the breakup of MOSA is not immediately clear. In the case of Otsego County, Rowinski said she hopes the windfall — which could to $1.5 million or more — will be dedicated to solid waste needs, as launching a new approach is apt to require an investment of public funds.

The county is continuing to get guidance from its trash consultant, Hans Arnold, who will be reviewing the various proposals and is likely to make a recommendations soon to the solid waste committee, she said. If that happens later this month, the full county board could be asked to approve an arrangement with a private trash firm in April.

Another question that lingers is: Where will the trash be hauled to once it is collected in the three counties? Officials said the firms picked to manage the trash operations are expected to have a major say in that decision.

MOSA’s transfer stations in Otsego County are located in Fly Creek and in Oneonta. Those are expected to be managed by the firm that eventually contracts with the county in what officials are billing as a public-private partnership.

Asked if he has any plans once MOSA is dissolved, Heaton said, “I’ve been doing garbage for 25 years. “You just keep moving forward.”

MOSA's moola• $4 million Total MOSA liquid assets• 42 percent Montgomery County's share• 40 percent Otsego's share• 18 percent Schoharie's share