Southampton saves millions on garbage disposal

Published 10:24 am Saturday, December 25, 2010


COURTLAND—Southampton County has saved more than $2.5 million since July 2006 when it comes to getting rid of garbage.

The county used to send an average 1,426 tons of waste per month to the Suffolk landfill operated by Southeastern Public Service Authority. Prior to July 2006, the dumpsites around the county for residents were open 24-7.

At the beginning of the 2006 fiscal year, the county fenced in its dumpsites and hired attendants to oversee activity when open three days a week. The changes cut the county’s garbage tonnage in half and saved $3.75 million in fees to the landfill.

The savings came at a cost of more than $1.25 million for the upgrades at waste disposal sites and paying employees to man them.

“These savings have certainly mitigated any additional tax rate increase,” said County Administrator Mike Johnson. “If we had to have paid that $2.5 million, we certainly would have had to raise taxes.”

Historically the county sent 100 percent of its waste to the landfill. Seven months ago, the county took advantage of a clause in its contract, which requires it to send 95 percent of its waste to SPSA.

The county began delivering the remaining 5 percent of its garbage to a privately owned landfill in Waverly, which charges $31 a ton. SPSA charges $150 per ton, but will reduce that rate by $5 a ton on Jan. 1.

“We decided to take advantage of the provision of the contract that allows us to send that 5 percent somewhere else,” Johnson said. “Since April/May of last fiscal year, we have sent 334 tons total to Waverly instead of SPSA. The difference comes in where we would have paid either $170 a ton (under the previous SPSA rate) or $150 a ton by sending that waste to SPSA.”

The county is interested in reducing waste further and has begun curbside recycling in a number of towns and more populated communities.

“That program has really picked up, and I think that is one of the reasons if you look at the monthly tonnages in the fiscal year, it is lower already than in fiscal year 2010,” Johnson said.

The county is disposing of wood waste and vegetative debris elsewhere.

Johnson said he believes that any time residents recycle, it’s good for the environment, the community and certainly the county.