Franklin County bids on Albany’s garbage

MALONE — The city of Albany’s landfill is running out of room, and the Franklin County Solid Waste Authority has offered to take the load.

The Franklin County Solid Waste Authority voted in October to submit a proposal in response to Albany’s request for bids, and should receive a reply in January. Contacted by the Enterprise, Solid Waste Director George Eades was vague about the details. He said the Request For Proposals offered several options, and that therefore his bid didn’t include a specific price.

“We replied to their RFP and said we’d be willing to negotiate with them,” said Eades. He estimated the waste from Albany would amount to between 37,000 and 100,000 tons a year.

David Rhodes, who served eight years on the FCSWA board, said the contract could be a good thing “as long as they charge a price comparable to what local people are paying.”

FCSWA operates a regional landfill in the town of Constable, and transfer stations in Malone, Lake Clear and Tupper Lake. The landfill takes in about 80,000 tons of waste per year, which comes from Franklin and Essex counties and the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation,

Franklin County residents pay around $90 a ton to dispose of waste.

City of Albany residents pay nothing, or a yearly fee of $180 per unit for some multi-unit dwellings. The Rapp Road landfill takes trash from Albany and 13 other municipalities around the city and is expected to reach capacity in 2023.

The city’s RFP is aimed at getting a contract in place by 2020. It asks for proposals that would include a transfer station, to phase out use of the Rapp Road landfill, and a landfill.

“Waste handled at the transfer station will be disposed of at a facility location determined by the selected contractor,” according to the RFP. All proposals are expected to include a transfer station that would operate for a minimum of five years and be capable of handling 120 tons of waste per day.

Franklin County Legislator Andrea Dumas, R-Malone, was the only member of the FCSWA board to vote against the proposal. “We don’t have enough information,” said Dumas. “There are some unanswered questions.

“What are we bringing in, who’s managing it, who’s going to pick up the transportation? There are so many variables.” Dumas said the proposal was rushed past the board.

“It was just too fast of a turnaround,” she said.

The RFP specifies that proposals must include management of recycling materials. Albany city residents are provided with blue bins to place recyclables in for pick-up. Although Franklin County residents are encouraged to recycle, much that could be recycled ends up in the landfill. According to the FCSWA website, “recyclables are primarily separated at the source and brought to the transfer stations by residents and haulers.” Franklin County residents are charged a $10 fee for recycling per year.

“Very few people are recycling,” said Dumas. “We need to fix the recycling end. Landfills are closing because they’re filling up, but we need to first look at what we can do in our own county.”

Rhodes, who recently left the FCSWA board, said, “Recycling isn’t what it could be. Eventually, we’ll get that straightened out.”

Eades, however, was short on ideas. “I don’t know how we could make people recycle if they don’t want to,” he said.

Franklin County’s landfill, according to Eades, is barely breaking even. Three years ago, FCSWA spent $19 million to add more cells to the original landfill. The landfill opened in 1995, on a portion of an 180-acre lot. It now has an approved footprint of 142 acres on a total lot of 1,100 acres.

FCSWA is currently suing Zoladz, a construction company tasked with building new cells for the landfill. FCSWA contends that Zoladz cost the landfill money by failing to meet deadlines. Zoladz, which is countersuing for defamation and $10 million in damages, blames the missed deadlines on misrepresentations by FCSWA and its engineering firm. The suit is scheduled to be heard by New York State Supreme Court in January 2018.

The landfill operates separately from Franklin County government, although the legislators appoint the members of the board. Five of the seven members currently sitting on the board were appointed in 2017.

According to Waste 360, a waste industry information group, the city of Albany expects to pay around $3 million a year for waste transportation and disposal.

“It would be a substantial benefit to us,” said Eades, if FCSWA got the contract. “We could replace equipment more often.”