Cortland (WSYR-TV) – Money trouble at their landfill has prompted Cortland County to formally begin looking at a very unique partnership with Onondaga County.
For over half a year, the two counties have been exploring the idea of shipping Cortland County trash north and brining ash from the incinerator back.
And now, Cortland municipal leaders are moving ahead with their plans.
The Cortland County landfill has only accumulated about half the amount of refuse it is permitted to take, but paying for the full expansion it added several years ago.
The landfill is losing between $300,000 and $500,000 per year – which lawmakers say is unsustainable.
With other options ruled out by the public and legislature, the county is turning to its neighbor to the north.
"I like the idea of partnering with other municipalities and I think that's going to be the wave of the future,” said Cortland County Legislature Chair Mike Park.
Onondaga County is facing a decision in a couple of years regarding the future of its trash burning plant, and Cortland County thinks it can help – shipping trash up to the plant to increase volume and revenue there and having trucks returning full of ash to provide a place to store the byproduct.
Cortland County notes that it is more financially feasible to maintain an ash dump, as opposed to a landfill, and it hopes to allay more costs through some of the revenue generated from the arrangement from Onondaga County.
"Actually the ash is a lot safer than the trash that we're pulling in there now and that's a fact from the DEC. We have to educate our general public down here on that and our other legislators,” said Cortland County Legislature Chair Mike Park.
"It’s almost a prerequisite of us increasing our revenue - we have to have additional truck traffic whether it's municipal solid waste or whether it's a bud material,” said Cortland County Administrator Marty Murphy.
They say it would take millions to meet the new DEC regulations for landfills that are coming down the road – far too much, they say, for a small operation like this and especially for one that's operating in the red already.
"The volume is good for your county because it helps sheer your costs. It's good for us because being such a small county it takes some of the financial burden off of us to develop those facilities,” said Park.
"If in fact it proves to be environmentally sound, it will be a tremendous benefit to Cortland County and I think it will be very beneficial to all the partners,” Murphy said.
Moreover, the county would be able to dispose of a number of eyesores associated with a landfill.
Cortland County legislators have approved spending $250,000 to study the environmental aspects of the plan, which would take nearly a year to finish.
The earliest the plan could go into effect would be in May of 2015.