Landfill Operating Agreement: Questions and Answers
Note: On July 28, 2011, the Town Board approved an agreement authorizing Waste Connections, Inc. to operate the landfill on behalf of the Town. Below are answers to some questions about what the agreement means to the Town of Colonie and its residents. The agreement has been posted at: www.colonie.org. If you have questions, please feel free to call me at 783-2728.
Town Supervisor Paula A. Mahan
How does the operating agreement with Waste Connections, Inc. benefit Colonie taxpayers?
The landfill agreement saves taxpayers millions of dollars in current and future financial obligations.
Did you sell the Landfill?
We did not sell the landfill. We still own it. Waste Connections, Inc. will operate the landfill on behalf of the Town.
Will my rates increase for curbside trash pick-up?
For the first time ever, annual curbside rate increases will be capped for Town residents who are customers of Waste Connections and for residents of the Village of Colonie and the Village of Menands. Previous to the agreement, there were no such safeguards.
Can I still bring trash to the landfill?
Residents can still bring trash to the landfill. Annual rate increases at the gate will be capped.
Will I still be able to get free compost?
The landfill will still provide free compost.
Will I still get free curbside lawn and leaf pickup?
The Town's free curbside lawn and leaf pick-up will continue as before.
Will the landfill still be open on Saturday?
Yes. The landfill will be open on Saturday.
Will I still be able to dispose of hazardous waste?
Residents will still be able to drop off hazardous household waste for free on designated days.
Will landfill employees lose their jobs?
Landfill employees are part of the Town's Department of Public Works and will be allowed to continue working within the DPW. Waste Connections will also interview those preferring to remain at the Landfill.
What if Waste Connections doesn't do a good job?
The agreement contains many safeguards. If Waste Connections does not perform as stipulated, the Town may terminate the agreement and retain all prior payments. If warranted, the agreement also provides for negotiation of higher payments to the Town after 15 years.
What if Waste Connections brings in hazardous waste?
Hazardous waste is prohibited under the Town's landfill permit, under which Waste Connections will operate. The agreement also prohibits importing waste from outside the region.
Why is Waste Connections a good fit for Colonie?
Waste Connections successfully manages landfills for several municipalities similar in size and demographics to Colonie. It is a publicly traded company with a strong credit rating. Waste Connections was also willing to cap rate increases for residents, which was important to us.
What will the Town receive from this agreement?
- Deficit: A $23 million signing payment means the Town can immediately eliminate both the landfill deficit and the general fund deficit. The remainder will be held in escrow for landfill debt service payments.
- Landfill Closure Costs: More than $20 million in landfill closure and post-closure costs mandated by New York State will be paid on the Town's behalf. This relieves taxpayers of a significant tax obligation that would otherwise stretch far into the future.
- Guaranteed Annual Income: The Town receives guaranteed annual payments over the 25 years of the agreement totaling a minimum of $33.5 million ($2.3 million annually for the first five years and $1.1 million annually for the remainder of the contract.)
- Waste-to-Energy Revenue: The Town will now receive the revenue from its waste-to-energy operation, conservatively estimated at $700,000 a year, for a total of $17.5 million over 25 years. Previously this revenue was used to support landfill operations.
- Landfill Debt: Future capital improvements at the landfill will be paid for by Waste Connections, Inc. The Town need not take on new debt for needed upgrades.
- Bond Rating: Elimination of landfill and general fund deficits could result in an opportunity for an upgrade to the Town's bond rating, yielding further savings.