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Town considers hiring BFI for garbage pickup

The Town Board may decide to dispose of the town's Sanitation Department by the end of the year in a cost-cutting move.

The board met in closed session Thursday night for about an hour to discuss the possibility of having BFI Waste Systems of North America handle garbage collection in the town.

Supervisor Steven C. Richards said the town is already looking at a tax increase of $1.42 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for 2006 due to an increase in the town's fire contract with Niagara Active Hose and faces increased pension and medical costs. Therefore, he said he believes the time is right to reduce costs in the Sanitation Department.

Richards also said circumstances were right because no one in the department would lose a job, since the five workers could be moved to other departments where openings already exist.

Richards said the Town Board commissioned a study in 1993 on how to handle garbage and trash disposal, and that study recommended eliminating the department and contracting the job out.

Such a consolidation would save about $300,000 annually, he said. During Thursday's work session, Richards said, "I'm desperate for money here."

If the switch is made, Richards said BFI would start collecting garbage in January. The details of recycling would still have to be worked out, since the town complies with the state law mandating recycling by taking waste to American Ref-Fuel in Niagara Falls, where it is burned and turned into steam energy.

BFI is currently in negotiations with the town to get a permit to be allowed to store waste in another portion of the landfill at 5600 Niagara Falls Blvd. Part of the landfill is in the town.

BFI is currently paying the town $200,000 annually to be able to operate here.

Richards cited some neighboring towns who have saved cash by contracting their garbage disposal and recycling out. Wheatfield, with a population of 17,000 and 9,000 homes, pays $500,000 annually for garbage disposal.

In contrast, Richards said, the Town of Niagara has 3,300 homes, a population of under 10,000 and pays more than $700,000 for waste disposal.

e-mail: pkowalik@buffnews.com

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