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Oswego County considers closing four transfer stations

Gino Geruntino

Some residents of Oswego County may soon have to find other options for getting rid of their garbage if a recent proposal by the Oswego County Legislature is implemented.

Right now the county’s five transfer stations are operating on a $500,000 deficit. Starting July 1, each facility will close one day a week, which according to Oswego County Solid Waste Director Frank Visser will save the county nearly $190,000 a year. Disposal fees are also increasing, which could raise $500,000 in revenue if waste levels don’t change.

But there is also a plan on the table to close four of those transfer stations in the next two years, leaving only the Bristol Hill Trandfer Station & Landfill in Volney open by the end of 2015. Visser says fewer people are using the county’s transfer stations on a regular basis.

“Maybe five, six years ago it was easy to find the money to subsidize this service," Visser said. "Where today, because overall volume is down, even the stuff outside the transfer station has been down, it’s more difficult to come up with the funds to support the transfer station.”

He says by reducing operations and staff, the remaining location can turn a profit and the county can use the savings to address budgetary concerns.

“This year, or last year’s county surplus was reduced $10 million from the previous year, so that’s a big concern," Visser explained. "And then there’s the ongoing negotiations with the nuclear plants in regard to their tax status, which is uncertain. So there’s this general feeling that the budget needs to be reduced.”

Visser says some Oswego County residents are concerned that with fewer places to take their trash, people will resort to roadside dumping, burying or burning their garbage. But he said when disposal fees were first instituted in the 1990s, residents were also afraid that would happen, but it didn’t.

Visser also says although only about 15 percent of the county’s families purchase an annual sticker to use the transfer stations, those residents are upset that they may have to take their garbage to other facilities that are farther away or rely on a hauling service to get the job done.

The proposed closures are expected to eliminate 15 jobs, but Visser says there should be opportunities for the department’s employees to find other jobs within the county, especially in the highway department. With two facilities proposed to close at the end of this year and two more next year, he says there should be enough turnover and retirements to accommodate the displaced workers.

“We would have a better chance of migrating our employees into vacancies in other departments in the county, rather than just eliminating their jobs and putting somebody out on the street, if we do it more gradual," Visser said. "The other way it would give people more time to look for options on how to get rid of their waste.”

The plan to close the transfer stations isn’t a done deal. Visser says the county should decide whether or not to enact it in next couple of months.