COOPERSTOWN -- The regional trash authority is considering whether it should privatize the operation of waste transfer stations in three local counties.

At its Thursday meeting in Howes Cave, the board of directors for MOSA -- the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Authority -- is slated to consider issuing a request for proposals to see if private businesses are interested in running its transfer stations.

By testing the waters, MOSA will be in a better position to determine if privatizing those operations can help shave overall costs for getting rid of trash in the region, MOSA Executive Director Dennis Heaton said.

"If you don't do your homework, then you're failing your member counties," Heaton said. "It will give you more information as to where you should head."

The MOSA board, he added, will also consider issuing a second request for proposals designed to inform the authority of the appraised value of its assets -- which include the two waste transfer stations in Otsego County. MOSA has two additional transfer stations in Montgomery County and a fifth in Schoharie County, near its headquarters in Howes Cave.

The move by MOSA may be too late to keep Otsego County, which has signaled that it wants to break away from the authority and begin its own public-private partnership to handle solid waste.

Both houses of the Legislature passed a home-rule measure in June that would allow Otsego County to split from MOSA. However, the bill's sponsor, Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, has not yet transferred the bill to the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to a Seward spokesman.

The bill must go to Cuomo no later than Dec. 31, according to Seward's office.

"That thing is long overdue to go to the governor," said Alex Shields of Richfield Springs, one of the eight members of the MOSA board of directors.

Otsego County Treasurer Dan Crowell urged Cuomo to approve the legislation in a letter to the governor's office last month. He said the arrangement with MOSA has unnecessarily cost Otsego County more than $2 million a year in recent years.

While the Otsego County Board of Representatives has authorized a request for proposals on pursuing a public-private partnership for trash, Heaton insisted MOSA's interest in privatization is unrelated.

"The service agreement (MOSA has with the three counties) runs up in 2014," he pointed out. "So the question is: What are we going to do post-2014? We just can't sit on our hands and do nothing."

Shields said he suspects MOSA employees are coping with anxiety over whether they will still have jobs if the authority is privatized or if service levels change. He said the authority should keep that in mind and come to a rapid conclusion on how it will be operated.

"The workers deserve to know if there will be any cuts in services."

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