The Marilla Town Board on Thursday night voted to hire attorney John Kolaga to develop regulations on the controversial storage and spreading of equate, biological waste.
Currently, a moratorium that expires Oct. 7 prohibits the storage or spreading of equate in the town. The moratorium will likely be extended, however, to give Kolaga time to craft new regulations. Kolaga’s fee is $230 per hour, plus $200 an hour for an associate.
“It’s a long time coming and took a lot of time and work by the conservation advisory and planning boards,” Councilman Warren Handley said. “Thanks to the sludge committee’s research, we will draft something.”
The sludge committee was formed in January in response to the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to allow farmer Stanley Travis to store equate from Quasar Energy of West Seneca on his Eastwood Road farm.
The ensuing controversy prompted many residents fearful that their well water would be contaminated by equate runoff to turn out at Town Board meetings.
Supervisor Earl Gingerich Jr. accepted blame for the regulatory delay.
“It is my fault for not acting sooner, as I was waiting to see if the Town of Lewiston would join us in a legal fight,” he said. “It would have saved us some money, but we will go it alone at this point.”
A public hearing will be scheduled in October on the likely extension of the moratorium. Gingerich said the town has made much progress on the issue.
Meanwhile, the sludge committee is scheduled to meet in public at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
On a related issue, a letter will be sent to Travis, requesting that he ask the Army Corps of Engineers to determine if the storage of sludge on his property will impact wetlands or pose other environmental problems.
In other matters:
• Gingerich, who announced the 2015 budget process will begin soon, recommended paying off $155,000 on a sanitation truck and $35,000 plus interest on a highway truck. He also suggested starting a new reserve fund in 2015 for equipment purchases for the sanitation and highway departments.
Currently, trucks are replaced every 13 years and Gingerich would like that reduced to 10 years. He said the money will come from surplus in the highway fund and money from the general fund.
• Gingerich also is proposing a salary freeze for all elected and appointed officials and a 2 percent salary increase for clerks.
• The supervisor also noted there are 14 security cameras at Town Hall but none at the highway garage, where expensive equipment is stored. He suggested security cameras be added at the garage.