“Dubben: County will probably leave MOSA in 2014” read the headline on a story in The Daily Star way back in 2010.
Then-Otsego County Board Chairman Sam Dubben argued that it was unlikely that the other member counties of the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority would sign off on Otsego’s departure, and that the county would get the state’s blessing, before the 25-year contract expired in 2014.
Well, Sam, it looks like you were right.
Against long odds, Otsego County did get the state to OK its proposal to leave the partnership in early 2012.
But like any good divorce, the fight has come down to money. MOSA’s appraisers have assessed the value of the agency’s properties at $6.4 million, including $2.1 million for the transfer station in Oneonta and $730,000 for the transfer station north of Cooperstown. Otsego County officials argue that these figures are too high, which means the county is getting shorted.
And it is precisely this fight that has left Otsego County right back where it started in 2010, when it first began seriously considering breaking up its relationship with MOSA.
Back then, when we heard Dubben’s prediction, we had some words of advice for the county.
We noted that consultant Hans Arnold would have his work cut out for him in helping the county craft a plan for what it will do with garbage, post-MOSA. And work he has — but his efforts have been stymied in part by the fight over assets, which may have to be settled in court.
We wrote then, too, that there are many lessons to be learned from Delaware County, which has found a way to turn trash into treasure, quite literally. By managing its own recycling facility, Delaware actually produces revenue from its Solid Waste Management Center — a far cry from the massive sums Otsego has been paying to MOSA.
But most of all, we sounded a cautionary note that there were many decisions to be made over the next four years.
And we can’t help but feel as if many of those decisions still lie before us.
We spent a lot of time fighting to get out of MOSA early — to little effect. Meanwhile, we still don’t know what the future will hold.
We urge the county to take firm action toward crafting its post-MOSA strategy.
In 2010, we closed our advice to the county by observing that “2014 will be here before we know it.”
Three years later, we echo those same words.
We didn’t want to believe Dubben then, but we can’t ignore the reality we’re in. And the reality is, we still have a lot to do before 2014.