The Marilla Town Board has enacted a six-month moratorium on the disposal of sludge on town land.
The moratorium, crafted by Town Attorney Joel R. Kurtzhalts, was designed to give town officials time to research the sludge issue to determine whether town regulations are protecting the community.
During recent Town Board meetings, residents have raised concerns that sludge spread on land might be polluting the water table.
The controversy stems from a town farmer’s proposal to store effluent from a digester owned and operated by Quasar Energy Group.
Opposition to that plan was fierce, with skull-and-crossbones signs appearing throughout the town. Ultimately, the issue led to a change in Town Board leadership.
In addition, residents sent more than 100 letters opposing the permit for sludge storage to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC has yet to make a final decision on whether to approve the permit.
During the moratorium, the town will suspend all decisions on requests for processing of solid waste and recycling or the disposal of sewage and sludge. However, projects already approved would be allowed to continue.
The board last week adopted a 2014 budget of $2.6 million, which is up by $25,578 from this year and includes a 3 percent across-the-board salary increase for town employees. Supervisor George J. Gertz said employees will be required to pay toward their health and dental insurance.
More-than-expected revenue from sales tax allowed for the salary increases. The general fund portion of the budget will have no tax-rate increase because revenues offset spending. The entire spending package will require a tax levy of $1.2 million, with the exception of the general fund.
The board also approved the fire company contract, which is up by $8,140 from the current year.
The board approved the application of Mary Furman as the latest member of the Conservation Board and the reappointment of Peter P. Baschmann to another six-year term on the Board of Assessment Review.
Gertz reported that the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Erie County Water Authority to make certain the work continues toward turning four water districts over to the authority, which should be completed in about six months. The four districts will become one large one, and the hydrant fees, which vary by district, will be divided equally among all.
The new snowplow agreement between the towns and Erie County resulted in a 3 percent increase for the towns plowing county roads this year. The contract for Marilla is up by $8,000, to $194,000.
The Town Board will vote on the new Farmland Protection Plan at the Dec. 12 meeting.
James C. Hopper submitted his resignation as chairman of the Conservation Advisory Board, dated Oct. 24.