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May 14, 2014

Officials: New trash system is much better

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Private management of Otsego County’s two waste transfer stations is nearly two weeks old, and local officials say they are feeling no buyer’s remorse about the new arrangement.

“Everything is working fine,” said county Rep. Linda Rowinski, D-Oneonta, the chairwoman of the county board’s Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns Committee.

For a quarter century, waste management for Montgomery, Otsego and Schoharie counties had been operated by a regional trash authority known as MOSA. That arrangement ended on April 30 and beginning May 1 Otsego County has been involved in a public-private partnership with Casella Waste Management of Rutland, Vt.

It is Casella, not MOSA, that now staffs the transfer stations in the town of Oneonta and Fly Creek, the hamlet just north of Cooperstown.

Rowinski said the goal was to make the transition as seamless as possible, and aside from a wrinkle here and there, the results have been positive.

Otsego County Planner Karen Sullivan said aside from “a few growing pains,” the transition to Casella managing the two transfer stations has been a smooth one.

“With the new private/public relationship, the hours and days of operation have been reduced and the public and commercial haulers have had to adjust their schedules accordingly,” Sullivan said.

The tipping fee has been reduced from $73.50 per ton to $65 per ton. For individual households, bag waste remains at $3 per bag. The minimum fee for waste under 750 pounds has been set at $25.

“Overall, the transition has weathered the first two weeks with minor challenges,” Sullivan said. “I am confident these challenges are being address head-on by Casella staff and will dissipate through improvements, adjustments and time for the public to acclimate.”

County Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, said while he had advocated for an even lower tipping fee than the one now facing haulers, he is pleased that local officials are the ones empowered to make such decisions, not MOSA.

“I think this is going to be a great arrangement,” he said. “It was the best thing we’ve ever done. I have no regrets.”

Officials said the divvying up of MOSA’s remaining assets between the three counties that participated in the authority is an ongoing process.