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St. Lawrence County to spend up to $1 million for Solid Waste equipment

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators agreed Monday to spend up to $1 million on equipment for the Solid Waste Department, although some lawmakers wanted to wait until an agreement with master haulers and union concessions are in place.

The money will go for an over-the-road tractor, eight trailers, two stationary compactors, a recycling compactor, a plow truck and other equipment. The goal is to move bigger and heavier loads of garbage, but fewer of them, to the Development Authority of the North Country landfill in Rodman.

“It should result in savings going forward,” Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, said.

The equipment purchase, mostly using retained earnings, is part of the plan the county worked out with major private haulers to increase the tonnage of garbage they bring to the transfer stations in return for a discounted tipping fee and concessions from Solid Waste Department union members to reduce overtime and personnel by cutting the number of trips to Rodman.

“Right now, all parties are willing to move forward in good faith,” recycling coordinator Scott A. Thornhill said.

Upgraded software, primarily paid for by DANC, will allow for credit and debit card payments at the transfer stations.

County Attorney Michael C. Crowe is reviewing a memorandum of understanding with the larger haulers to make sure it does not conflict with the county’s flow control law.

“Without a signed contract in place, it seems this might be a little premature,” Legislator Jason A. Clark, D-Norfolk, said. “I’ll defer a ‘yes’ vote until that’s in place.”

Legislator Kevin D. Acres, R-Madrid, agreed that spending the money on equipment without written agreements made him uncomfortable.

“I’m willing to support this plan if all three pieces are in place,” he said.

But other lawmakers said they thought the deals were far enough along for them to commit to the purchases.

“If we weren’t going to stay in the business, I think this would have been moot,” Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler, said. “I think the decision’s been made to stay in the business.”

Union members have said they are willing to talk about shift changes that will reduce overtime. The plan is to cut two positions from the department in 2014.

“I will take the union at their word,” Legislator Donald A. Peck, D-Gouverneur, said.

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