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Dutchess Legislature Continues To Seek Waste Management Solutions; Calls for Action Following Comptroller Report
Rolison, Miccio form Resource Recovery Reform Committee to look for permanent solutions

Published: 9/2/2010

For More Information Contact:

Michael A. Ellison (845) 486-2103

Chairman Rob Rolison (R-Poughkeepsie) and Environment Committee Chairman Jim Miccio (R-Fishkill) today thanked Dutchess County Comptroller Jim Coughlan for his thorough review of the Resource Recovery Agency (RRA). At their request, Coughlan conducted a fiscal review of the RRA that states “It is overly apparent that the Agency has not been capable of managing its operations at a level required for the good of the County and its taxpayers.”

“Now is the time to review and reform solid waste management in Dutchess County. However, before an equitable solution can be reached to pay for environmental initiatives such as waste-to-energy technology upgrades, greater recycling opportunities, and/or enforcement of flow control – all things proposed in the Local Solid Waste Management Plan (LSWMP) crafted by the RRA itself – public confidence must be restored to that Agency,” said Rolison

A working group of legislators conducted an investigation into the options available to address a skyrocketing Net Service Fee (NSF), a subsidy paid for by County taxpayers for an agency that is supposed to be autonomous. Since 1995 the County has paid nearly $33 million in NSFs to the RRA. To address this subsidy and increase oversight, absent the Charter mandated position of a County Solid Waste Commissioner, Chairman Rolison has transformed the working group into a special Resource Recovery Reform Committee chaired Legislator Miccio.

“The previous Legislature’s Majority left the RRA challenges as a ‘parting gift’ to the new Majority. We have since stepped up to the plate and formed a bipartisan reform committee. But before any further investment is made to fund solid waste disposal, a waste-to-energy facility, and increased recycling programs there must be greater fiscal accountability, responsibility, and transparency from the RRA,” said Miccio.

Investigative research done by the Legislature’s “working group”, the state’s Authority Budget Office (ABO), and now a critical report issued by the Dutchess County Comptroller are concrete evidence that change is long overdue at the RRA. At the urging of the Comptroller in an effort to achieve this change, the Legislature will consider the following initial actions:

1. Any surplus funds previously unavailable, almost $3 million according to our Comptroller, must be paid to the County immediately and used to offset any NSF for 2010-11;
2. All monies earmarked for the 2010 NSF in 2009, $1.4 million according to the Comptroller, that were absorbed into the County general fund must be used for the December NSF payment to the RRA;
3. Seek an independent analysis of all potential operational and financial alternatives for funding the RRA must be conducted and considered by the Legislature before the LSWMP must be adopted on December 31, 2010; 
4. Continue to advocate the immediate appointment of a Solid Waste Commissioner by the County Executive, someone who can oversee solid waste management operations in Dutchess County while issuing hauler licenses and all necessary permits; and
5. In an effort to bring bold, innovative solutions to the table, call for all holdover appointments on the RRA Board to be replaced.

“Once these initial actions are taken, larger reforms can and will be implemented that will preserve an environmental asset in our community while addressing the taxpayer cost of an essential government service. As the RRA working group stated in their report, selling the waste-to-energy facility on Sand Dock Road is a viable last resort option, one that will be considered should the RRA Board continue its propensity of taxpayer ‘nonfeasance’,” said Miccio.

Rolison and Miccio concluded by thanking Dutchess County Comptroller Jim Coughlan for his research and candor.

“The Comptroller’s review of the RRA is a call to action that cannot and should not be ignored by this Legislature, the County Executive, or the RRA Board. At a Committee of the Whole meeting on September 13th we will discuss this review as well as the Local Solid Waste Management Plan with intentions of not just finding permanent solutions to the cost of waste disposal on taxpayers but to also improve recycling and overall waste management operations that will benefit all Dutchess County residents and the generations to come,” said Rolison.