Earth Waste & Metal Inks Washington County Transfer Station Deal

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The Washington County Board of Supervisors inked a deal Friday with Vermont-based Earth Waste and Metal, ending its two decades in the trash business.

Friday’s five-year lease agreement for the five transfer stations, which comes with a purchase option, constitutes the first swell of a wave of privatizations that includes the Public Health Department and Pleasant Valley nursing home.

The $5,000-a-month lease agreement breezed through the county board Friday, approved unanimously although it required nearly 45 minutes of unscheduled review from supervisors because the deal was so fresh most hadn’t had time to read it.

“We’re voting to accept an agreement we have not read,” said Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff. “I’m all for divesting but it’s like buying a pig in a poke.”

Earth Waste and Metal’s June 1 takeover will save the county an estimated $29,000 every month.

Sixty percent of the rent paid to the county will be credited toward the final $1.47 million purchase price if the company opts to buy the five stations — in Kingsbury, Granville, Greenwich, Whitehall and Jackson — within 12 months of the operational takeover. The company will also pay $475,000 for all on-site equipment when the lease takes effect.

“I am personally, as a citizen, gravely opposed to this,” said Argyle Supervisor Bob Henke. “But we live in a republic, and most of my constituents support it. I think it’s a horrible idea.”

Earth Waste and Metal President Kevin Elmicki said his firm plans on purchasing the stations outright within the 12-month period.

The future of the half-dozen county Department of Public Works employees that man the transfer stations worried at least one county supervisor.

“Do we know what’s going to happen to the employees?” asked Cambridge Supervisor William Watkins. “I’ve talked to the employees and none of them have any idea what’s going to become of them.”

The lease/purchase agreement doesn’t include any employee retention stipulations.

The company hopes to retain some of the current transfer station staff, Elmicki said. He said he’s in discussions with the county about whether any of those employees not offered jobs with Earth Waste will be able to take other positions within DPW.

“We pushed for June 1st at the latest,” Elmicki said. “We hope to be in there as early as April.”

Transfer station services and available payment methods will be expected to expand under his company’s stewardship, Elmicki said.

The pending privatizations of Pleasant Valley and most of the Public Health Department are expected to be completed by year’s end.

March 15, 2013 2:29 pm  •  JON ALEXANDER – jalexander@poststar.com

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