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Ossenfort on MOSA: County panel is facing first 'big decision'

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 - Updated: 7:58 PM


For the C-S-E

FONDA -- Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort updated the legislature Monday night on the expiration of the county's current solid waste plan.

Because the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority is dissolving, the county has entered an intermunicipal agreement with Fulton County to solve the waste disposal issue. It will haul its waste to Fulton County's Mud Road landfill, but the entity that will be moving the waste is still not known.

"This is obviously a big issue for us and one that we're going to have to act on in a timely manner," Ossenfort said. "We don't have the luxury of taking three months to discuss this and go back and forth."

He said the decision needs to be made by the end of the month.

"We are going to have to make a decision at either a special meeting or at the next full board meeting," he said. "We cannot afford to let this decision go past the end of this month."

Ossenfort said this is the first big decision of the new legislature.

"I feel it is my job to give you all the options and I think we've done a good job at doing that so far," Ossenfort said. "Are we at the point where we have all the data that's finished? No. We're still negotiating."

Ossenfort said he has been evaluating the county's options relating to post-closure management -- because the county will have to maintain the landfills for the next few years regardless of what decision is made -- and the operation of the transfer stations. The county can either work in-house by allowing the public works department to run the transfer station and facilitate the post-closure work, or hire a private company.

"Though the numbers aren't final, we've see pros and cons to both sides," Ossenfort said. "There is no clear, easy decision here."

The county received four bids from private companies interested in doing either the post-closure management of MOSA or running the transfer station.

Gotta Do Contracting, LLC, submitted a bid for both portions, County Waste & Recycling Services Inc. bid on running the transfer station, and O'Brien & Gere bid on conducting the post-closure management.

On the private side, Ossenfort said there could be a clearer financial picture as the private company will set the rates for the upcoming years. However, it may cost more.

On the public side, he said the county will have more control of what goes on at the transfer station in the post-closure management process. He said the county will also have more control over the tipping fee if handled in-house.

Still, he said, creating a public entity could result in more liability and more risk.

"What happens if things don't go as planned?" Ossenfort said. "If we have accidents or issues like that, there is some concern there that there is additional risk on the public side."

Another concern, and one mentioned when the committee opened the floor to public comment, is retaining the 17 jobs of the current MOSA employees.

"Should the legislature decide to entertain a public-private partnership?" Ossenfort asked. "What can we do to try to ensure that the employees at least were looked at on the private side. I can feel confident in saying No. 1, the county will do everything it can to give the MOSA employees, should we go private, options when it comes to the county."

Ossenfort said if handled in-house, it won't be a problem, but if the county hires a private company it will be something they'll have to negotiate. He said that is also something he feels confident in.

Ossenfort said regardless of the decision made, it is the goal of himself and the legislature to not allow the tipping fee to get any higher. He said if anything, he would like to see it decrease or stay the same.

"Come that first day post-MOSA, we will be operating and we will be at the tipping fee we were at or lower," Ossenfort said. "That's the goal. I know there's a lot of concern from municipalities about what will happen moving forward, but we want to ensure that there's not only a smooth transition from one government to the other, but one public entity to the post-MOSA world that we're all living in now."


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