Dominick Calsolaro

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City may revisit landfill decision

Albany's attorneys advise against borrowing for expansion until state review is finished

Published by the Times Union written by TIM O'BRIEN, Staff writer, Times Union

The council will be asked at its June 2 meeting to repeal its ordinance passed May 19 to borrow $6.9 million to expand the landfill and $1.7 million for related work to restore part of the Pine Bush.

According to the council's agenda, the city's environmental and bond attorneys are recommending the city not go forward with borrowing the funds until a state environmental review is completed.

The city plans to expand the Rapp Road landfill eastward into 14 acres around the current transfer station, but the state Department of Environmental Conservation has raised questions about its application.

DEC sent the city a notice April 18 that its application was incomplete, said Lori O'Connell, a spokeswoman for the agency.

"We are still waiting for a resubmittal of their application to address the comments we had," she said. "Once the full application package is complete, then the public will be given a full opportunity for review and comment."

Albany officials have said the existing landfill could be full by the end of 2009 and the expansion could let the city keeping collecting garbage until 2017.

Michael O'Brien, who leads the council's General Services Committee, said council members had questioned whether to approve borrowing money before the plan was approved. He said City Comptroller Thomas Nitido had advised the timing was right to borrow.

Nitido said he merely told the council that if it was going to approve bonding this year, the May 19 meeting was the time to do so because the city borrows in July.

"We didn't contemplate borrowing money for this until the approval is done," Nitido said. "We did not expect to go to market for landfill stuff this year."

The city attorney's office did not return a call for comment. The Department of General Services referred a call to former commissioner Willard Bruce, who is working as a consultant to the city on the landfill plan. Bruce could not be reached.

Tim O'Brien can be reached at 454-5092 or by e-mail at tobrien@timesunion.com.