The Amherst Town Board moved one step closer Tuesday to finding a place to dispose of its sewage.
The board voted unanimously to approve a $1.49 million bond resolution to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. It also voted to bid the job of hauling the sewage, or sludge, from the plant to an alternate site.
The town signed a deal in May to truck the dehydrated sewage cakes to a Buffalo Sewer Authority site to be incinerated, but the deal fell through because it was in violation of general municipal law. Jeffrey D. Angiel, the town's assistant municipal engineer, said he was confident an agreement would be approved this time.
A deal would end the town's trouble-prone sewage pellet process, which converts sewage into dry, granular fertilizer for sale. Disposal in a landfill can cost up to $1 million per year, Angiel said.
"We need to make alternative arrangements for dealing with our sludge as we approach the end of our pelletization projects," Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein said.
He said the $1.49 million would not be spent unless a deal was in place. The bond would have a 20-year annual tax impact of 1.34 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
Later in the meeting, a contentious debate ensued when two resolutions aimed at pushing back public hearing times failed. At its previous meeting, the board unanimously approved moving seven of its 26 regular meetings from 7 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Weinstein sponsored the first resolution, which called for all public hearings on land use and Traffic Safety Board recommendations to be scheduled during 7 p.m. meetings so that more members of the public could attend. He noted Deputy Supervisor Guy R. Marlette's approved resolution that moved three public hearings scheduled for Tuesday's meeting to 7 p.m. Feb. 7.
"I don't think the change goes far enough to protect the public when these decisions are made," Councilman Mark A. Manna said.
Manna then sponsored a similar amendment to the rules of order that expanded Weinstein's resolution to include public hearings and decisions on local laws. After debating the merits of each, Manna, Councilman Steven D. Sanders and Councilwoman Barbara S. Nuchereno voted against Weinstein's resolution, which failed with a 3-3 tie.
Manna's resolution failed 4-2. Manna and Nuchereno voted for it.
Manna, whom Weinstein called "ornery" about the resolution's details, then sponsored two resolutions: one calling for volunteers for a county advisory committee on reapportionment and the other moving seven summer meeting times from 3 to 7 p.m. When those resolutions weren't seconded, Manna accused the board of discussing the matters without him before the meeting.
"This is a complete rehearsing of these votes, and you should be ashamed of yourselves," Manna, the board's lone Democrat, said.