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St. Lawrence County considers options on recycling contract

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators agreed Monday to extend a recycling contract with Casella Waste Services until the end of the year while it considers long-term options.

The county is considering whether to sign a new contract with Casella for recycling services at an increased cost or go with Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority. Initial estimates were that costs appeared to be close even if the county had to purchase a truck and have a driver take the material to Utica, but a number of questions have since come up.

“I believe we need to do our true due diligence,” Finance Committee Chairman Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, said. “There’s an awful lot of information we do not have.”

Legislator Gregory M. Paquin, D-Massena, said he hoped an agreement could be worked out locally to save jobs.

The county collects recyclables at its four transfer stations.

Casella takes them off the county’s hands for $89 per ton. With the end of the contract approaching, Casella proposed raising its fee to $119 per ton.

If the price received for the recyclables rose above $119 per ton, Casella would split the revenue 50/50 with the county.

Casella wants to raise its fee because it miscalculated its costs, General Manager Chester W. “Skip” Bisnett, told legislators. The company switched to “zero sort” collection, which requires more manpower to separate recyclables.

“That’s where the jobs are,” Mr. Bisnett said.

Casella went from a three-man crew to seven men because the amount of recyclables it handles went up.

“Every ton I take in, I lose money,” Mr. Bisnett said. “It’s not something the county did. It’s something I allowed to happen.”

Much of the cardboard separated out goes to ABC Paper in Norfolk. Changing Casella’s contract with the county could have an effect on the company, Mr. Bisnett said.

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