J.M.W. Turner's "Chichester Canal" at the Tate Gallery, London

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lawmakers call for trash monopoly

Two Ulster legislators have recommended establishing a disposal monopoly for all trash and recyclables generated within the county. The 16-page proposal presented Thursday by Ken Wishnick, D-New Paltz, and Carl Belfiglio, R-Port Ewen, would also transfer garbage oversight to the county executive.

The county's trash agency has needed a $1.4 million annual subsidy since 2010. Ballooning payments on $21.7 million of debt will send the subsidy to $2.5 million starting in 2013. But "flow control" — a requirement that all waste generated in the county cross the public agency's scales — would enable the agency to operate without a subsidy by 2015. That's because monopoly power enables the agency to set disposal fees as high as necessary to meet yearly expenses.

Tipping fees are expected to rise from an average of $87 per ton to $102 per ton, the proposal said, meaning a typical household would pay $16.83 more annually for garbage disposal.
"Flow control is a must," Wishnick said. "There's no other way to guarantee a profit."
The proposal would also ask the state for permission to enact flow control for recyclables. This would ensure Ulster has sufficient revenue to invest in equipment for "single stream," where all recyclable materials are collected together.

Most committee members wanted additional financial information before rendering a verdict on the proposal, but John Parete, D-Boiceville, was adamantly opposed. "The more the government sticks their hand in the pie, the worse it gets," Parete said. "You don't raise your prices to bring more businesses in." He wanted the county to sell its assets and get out of the trash disposal business.

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