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Niagara County gets good news on landfill capping cost

LOCKPORT – Niagara County legislators were breathing sighs of relief Monday after Refuse Disposal District Director Dawn M. Timm told them that the cost of the long-dreaded permanent capping of the district’s last landfill will be $2 million or less.

The price tag is far less than the cost estimates mentioned in past years by Timm’s predecessor, Richard P. Pope.

“We were scared of the $10 million, $12 million, $15 million cost,” said Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield. “This is within our means.”

Timm said the county still will have to borrow the money, but the expense will be far less than feared.

As for the tax impact, an estimate by CHA, the engineering firm working for the district, said the project will increase the Refuse District tax rate by about 1.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, adding $1.65 to the tax bill of the averaged single-family home in the district.

The Legislature is to vote Tuesday on scheduling a June 16 public hearing on the project, which will lead to bidding on the work.

The Refuse District property tax is charged everywhere in the county except in the towns of Cambria, Newfane, Wilson and Niagara, which never joined the district.

Timm said she has obtained variances from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to allow the county to apply a thinner cap to the construction and demolition, or C&D, landfill, which the county closed a couple of years ago. She said the $2 million will include repairs to two other long-closed Lockport landfills as well as capping C&D.

Timm said the work will be done this year, in late summer or early fall.

The C&D landfill covers 6 acres on the Lockport Bypass, but the cap will cover about 5 acres because the trash pile is narrower on top than on the base, Timm said. The cap will be two feet thick, but there will be seven different layers.

Also, Timm said, an electrical system is to be installed for automatic pumping of leachate into a proposed 10,000-gallon tank. At present, the district is pumping 25,000 to 30,000 gallons of leachate from C&D into a tanker trunk three times a week and hauling it to the City of Lockport wastewater treatment plant.

Timm said most of the leachate doesn’t derive from the waste in the landfill; it’s precipitation soaking through the landfill.

“We have no cap on our landfill. We don’t have a roof on our house yet,” Timm said by way of analogy.