Junk 'bonding'

The report published by the committee states the hauling fees for facilities in western New York dropped to $18 per ton, which was due to a decrease in the amount of waste flow. Cunningham said Colonie is not able to be so flexible since it must come before the Town Board to ask for a reduction in rates and would have to solicit its tonnage to bidders.

Cunningham cited the lack of town reserves and the accumulation of a large amount of debt at the landfill, which he said is currently the reason the landfill is not as profitable. The actual value of the landfill, as reported by Moody's Investor Service at the end of 2009, is negative $7.7 million, which is an improvement from 2007 when it was valued at negative $8.1 million.

The report shows the landfill contributes an average annual amount of $3.1 million to Colonie's general fund budget, but considering the post closure costs and depreciation the facility actually brings in $459,000.

These factors are what forced the committee to realize that continuing to run the facility as it currently does would hurt the Town of Colonie's credit rating and would also prevent the landfill from seeing real profit.

Closing the landfill was ruled out by the committee as Cunningham noted it would be eliminating an "asset" to the town and jobs would be lost due to closure.

The committee also rebuffed the idea of selling the landfill, stating that while it would relieve the town of any closure expenses and provide an immediate influx of cash from the sale, it would take the town out of the solid waste management business and the property would sell at today's value.

"The industry is growing as technologies are coming out," Cunningham said, "and so the future value of that landfill may be greater than we realize today because new technologies extend the life of that landfill."

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