COOPERSTOWN — Schoharie County officials have reluctantly opted to join Otsego and Montgomery counties in breaking free from the regional trash authority known as MOSA, and state legislation will be sought giving all three counties permission to end the arrangement.
“We have agreed in principle to offering joint legislation for home rule authority, which would ultimately dissolve MOSA,” Otsego County Rep. Linda Rowinski, D-Oneonta, chairwoman of the county’s Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns Committee said Tuesday.
Schoharie County officials until recently had been hoping to keep MOSA — officially known as the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority — intact, and now have to scramble on how to proceed if the authority is no longer its partner.
The MOSA agreement binding the three counties together in the authority expires April 30, 2014.
The chairman of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors, Phil Skowfoe of Fulton, said the tense talks with Otsego and Montgomery officials have been bruising experiences, arguing those counties have been playing “hardball” and giving Schoharie no choice but to agree to seek the end of the MOSA arrangement.
“They didn’t give us any option,” Skowfoe said in an interview. “They held us hostage on the division of the assets.”
Otsego County, under the arrangement, is entitled to 40 percent of the MOSA assets. Otsego County Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, said the authority’s liquid assets total about $3.5 million, noting he would like to direct that money, once it is obtained, to completing the upgrades to Otsego County’s emergency communications network.
Schoharie County’s share of the MOSA assets is 18 percent. The remaining 42 percent from the split-up of the nearly 25-year-old authority would go to Montgomery County.
Skowfoe acknowledged that Schoharie County will now have to map plans for how to deal with trash management.
“We haven’t done any planning yet because MOSA has worked so well for us over the years,” he said.