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Critics oppose landfill partnership

"They need to increase revenues if they're not strong, and if operational expenses can't be reduced," said Ferraro. "So they would either have to increase the rates or increase the waste."

He said a government entity can't increase rates as easily as a private company. Governments also have to be more transparent with their operations than a private company.

"What is comes down to is, 'Can a private entity operate more efficiently than a public entity?'" he said.

Department of Public Works Commissioner Jack Cunningham said that the permit issued by the DEC only allows for the landfill to take 170,000 tons per year, and that permit would remain the same. He said the main reason for the RFP is to look for ways to operate the landfill more efficiently.

"We're trying to get partners that have technologies that we can't invest in," he said.

Cunningham also referred to the gate rate as a commodity similar to gold and oil and as something that is driving the marketplace. A private solid waste facility can change its gate rate without having to go through a Town Board vote, allowing it to respond more efficiently to the market rate. If it were to make the rates too high, then there wouldn't be any waste coming in anyway, Cunningham said.

"If you up the rates too high, you won't have any waste at all," said Cunningham. "These guys know that. It's not a realistic approach in a market like the landfill market."

Ferraro questioned whether the employees at the landfill would still be considered public employees if a private partnership were to occur. With private employees it is easier to reduce employment benefits, making running the landfill more cost-effective.

"As turnover occurs, will they be replaced by the private sector or will they be public sector," he said. "These are all, I think, legitimate issues in terms of reducing those costs."

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