Franklin County legislators have decided to stay in the landfill business.
The current landfill in the county is projected to be filled up by 2017. The county was faced with the decision to either close it and be responsible for environmentally monitoring it for 30 years or to grow it.
So the county board recently took the first steps toward buying a farm in Westville next to the current landfill. If the county is successful in purchasing the property, the life of the landfill would go from five years to 100 years, said Legislator Tim Burpoe, D-Saranac Lake.
In 100 years, Burpoe said hopefully technology will probably have improved so that environmental monitoring won't be as much of an issue and an expense as it is now.
The county's Solid Waste Authority is currently revenue neutral, but Burpoe said that if the landfill can continue to run, authority personnel believe it will start turning an annual profit before long.
The county's Solid Waste Authority got authorization and recently went to the markets to sell bonds to pay for the property. The county agreed to front the money for bond payments, and then the authority will pay it back each time 35 days later, said county Manager Tom Leitz.
"It helps them make a far stronger case when they're borrowing money," Leitz said.
Leitz said the acreage and cost of the property are still being kept quiet so they don't influence the price the county will have to pay for it.
"Everything is not set in stone yet, but we've made the first overtures to start this process," Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun, R-Tupper Lake, said.
Maroun said he's had calls from Westville opposing the expansion, but he said that while nobody wants a landfill in their town, the people who live there get money for having it there, and that money would increase if the landfill is expanded.
He also argues that it's best for everyone if the county stays in the landfill business.
"If we don't have a landfill, somebody can come in and charge what they want and we'd have no choice, we've got to get rid of our garbage," Maroun said.
If there's extra space, the county could always sell the landfill or lease it to a private company, too, Maroun said.