Congratulations to Tom Ellis for his excellent letter-to-the-editor which appeared in Thursday’s Times Union (12/30/10) concerning the SWMP plan, the proposed solid waste authority and the possibility of an incinerator being constrducted in the area. The letter is shown below.
In addition to the points Tom made in his letter, it should be mentioned that shifting Albany’s landfill debt to a solid waste authority will not relieve Albany taxpayers from the obligations of that debt. Instead of paying the City of Albany for that debt, taxpayers will instead be paying a tax bill from the solid waste authority (in addition to the regular City taxes), freeing Albany’s inept management to continue to create more debt. The taxpayers will be responsible for paying all this debt, no matter what entity it is placed under.
Published: 12:00 a.m., Thursday, December 30, 2010
The Albany Common Council is reviewing a long-range solid waste management plan written by city consultants, Clough Harbour and Associates and former city planner Bill Bruce. The primary recommendation contained in the report is creation of a regional solid waste management authority. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has given the city until February to pass judgement on the proposal.
The authority’s purposes would be to (1) centralize solid waste decision-making for the region in the hands of a few people, (2) construct a large disposal facility, (3) lock, for the long term, all or most municipal governments in the region into providing trash and making up any deficits in the authority’s budget, (4) transfer tens of millions of dollars of Albany city landfill debt to the authority, and (5) block for another decade or two the development of vigorous waste minimization initiatives and aggressive recycling and reuse programs.
CHA and Bruce have in the past spoken enthusiastically about trash incineration or some variation of it. The first draft of their report mentioned their preference for a 1,500 tons-per-day facility that would meet the disposal needs of 700,000 people.
This region needs neither an authority nor a giant disposal facility. With creative, competent, and diverse leadership, local governments, corporations, and individuals could within a few years develop a decentralized resources recovery infrastructure composed of hundreds of recycling, repair, composting, and reuse centers.
Such a network already exists to some extent. Greatly expanding it would provide employment for some of the chronically underemployed and unemployed. Such facilities would stimulate economic development, build communities, be more flexible, better protect the environment, be easier to establish and discontinue, generate many more jobs, be far less risky financially for local governments and taxpayers, and save and/or recover far more energy than a large, centralized disposal (resources destruction) facility.
Tom Ellis, Albany
Published in January/February 2011 Newsletter