Editorial: Take the money and dump

A lot of investments take time to mature. Garbage, it would seem, is one of them.

Saratoga County is entertaining offers from three private companies interested in the municipality’s Northumberland landfill. You can read all about it on this week’s front page.

The county has set an end-of-the-year goal for deciding on a plan for a timeline that has been described as ambitious by some, but we would posit it is entirely realistic for one reason: something is better than nothing.

The landfill was made ready for business in 2001 after the county sunk about $10 million into its construction, and since then not so much as a burger wrapper has landed there. Instead, as county officials inform us this week, a single maintenance person has been patrolling the 100-acre site for more than a decade mowing the grass and monitoring the liner system.

Those on the county’s Landfill Subcommittee should absolutely take as much time as necessary to review all the proposals in detail, but we would wager there’s a plan in there heads and shoulders above the current state of affairs.

Officials are mum on the details of the plans Finch Paper LLC, New England Waste Services of New York Inc. and Capital Region Landfills, Inc. have submitted. They could be for an outright buy, a lease situation or a type of operating agreement similar to what Waste Connections struck with the Town of Colonie last year. That deal, by the way, is said to net the town up to $100 million over a quarter-century, which by our calculations is a lot of money.

It has also been a big help to a town that was the poster child for government mismanagement up until recently. Saratoga County is not in the best of financial times. Its Maplewood Manor Nursing Home is turning into a fiscal black hole from which money never emerges, recent sales tax collections have failed to meet projections and savings are being eaten up rapidly. The landfill is a bright spot in an otherwise dark budgetary future.

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