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Legislators reject refuse system offer

Cattaraugus County legislators decided Wednesday to reject an offer from Casella Waste Services to operate the county's refuse system.

The Public Works Committee met after the Legislature meeting and was joined by most other legislators to hear a proposal from the county's Refuse Department.

Casella previously presented the county a plan to operate the eight transfer stations and haul municipal waste and recyclables for disposal.

The county last year through its Strategic Planning Committee recommended looking into privatizing the refuse operations. Casella projected costs at $1.5 million a year, although the county estimated costs at $1.4 million.

William J. Aiello, R-Olean, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said the difference exceeded the department's budget by $100,000 and would cost the county more money.

"We felt the points made by the Refuse Department for changes will be a cost-savings plan," Aiello said. That includes an increase March 1 in refuse disposal fees at transfer stations to bring the county's total estimated operations to $1.5 million.

"Our goal is to make refuse costs level on the county budget," Aiello said.

Chairman Norman L. Marsh, R-Little Valley, said Casella also would have reduced operating hours at the transfer stations and offered no guarantee that the county's 12 full-time and 19 part-time refuse workers would maintain their jobs.

During a short agenda, the Legislature renewed several contracts and re-created the position of employment specialist in the Department of Social Services.

The one-year position is state-funded with a salary of $34,232, effective April 1, and will assist those in the Alternatives to Incarceration Program through the Probation Department to find jobs as a diversion from jail.

The position was one of around 25 positions approved last month by the Employee Position Vacancy Committee. Those jobs were vacant due to retirements or other issues when the 2012 budget was approved.

Legislators joined Marsh as sponsor of measure opposing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposed budget recommendation to curtail funding to Roswell Park Cancer Institute and requests $118 million in finding for 2012. Copies will be sent to elected state officials and Roswell Park.

Legislators James L. Boser, D-Allegany; Gary M. Felton, R-Machias; and William H. Weller Sr., R-Franklinville, were absent.