By JOE MAHONEY
The Daily Star
---- — COOPERSTOWN — A year ago, Otsego County officials thought they would have been able to cut ties with the solid waste authority known as MOSA by now.
Instead, with the service agreement binding Otsego, Schoharie and Montgomery counties to the trash agency set to expire on April 30, 2014, Otsego’s exit could probably won’t happen until the contract ends, said Otsego County Rep. Linda Rowinski, D-Oneonta, chairwoman of the Board of Representatives’ Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns Committee.
“I doubt it’ll happen before then,” said Rowinski, explaining that Otsego County officials want their full 40 percent share of the assets of the Montgomery Otsego Schoharie Solid Waste Authority (MOSA) before severing the relationship.
Appraisers hired by MOSA have estimated the collective value of the agency’s properties at $6.4 million. That includes approximately $2.1 million for the transfer station in Oneonta and $730,000 for the transfer station north of Cooperstown. Otsego County officials believe the estimates given for those two transfer stations are too high, effectively reducing the county’s rightful share of MOSA’s assets.
Rowinski said Otsego County officials have been hoping for a face-to-face sitdown with the appraisers to figure out how they came up with the estimates. However, MOSA has not authorized the appraisers to meet with the Otsego officials, she said.
“I really hope we can resolve this without going to court,” she said. “We are certainly doing everything in our power to make sure that happens.”
Dennis Heaton, executive director of MOSA, said the appraisal issue is expected to come before the MOSA board of directors when it meets on April 18.
When MOSA’s service agreement ends, the agency could continue on as long as the counties wish to keep up their participation, Heaton said. What will vanish next year, he said, is the guaranteed annual tonnage arrangement that requires the counties to pay a subsidy if they do not deliver the amount of solid waste to the authority as projected under the agreement. The agreement requires each county to deliver all waste generated within the county to a MOSA facility.
Montgomery County is also reviewing its options. Last month, Montgomery officials hired a consulting firm, Cashin Associates of Hauppage on Long Island, to study the county’s possible options regarding solid waste management.
Otsego County has already succeeded in getting state legislation enacted that authorizes the county to make an early exit from MOSA. Otsego has signaled that it wants to set up a public-private partnership to manage its trash needs.
Heaton said he just hopes that the counties “do what’s best for the people who use the system — the taxpayers.”
“I haven’t seen a better plan than MOSA yet,” he said.
Despite the snags that Otsego County has encountered, Rowinski said she believes the county is now better prepared to make the transition out of MOSA because of the research it has done.