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Common Council Debates Waste Disposal Proposals

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The City of Buffalo must take back control of a garage transfer station by this Friday. But the Common Council stopped short of approving a waste disposal contract at yesterday's session.

Buffalo is being forced to resume operations of the garbage transfer station on South Ogden Street due to Erie County's fiscal mess. But the contract with Modern Disposal in Lewiston expires Thursday. Modern's new contract would cost $5.5 million a year. But American Ref-Fuel of Niagara Falls also issued a proposal. It would cost $6.8 million a year.

Public Works Commissioner Joseph Giambra urged lawmakers to approve a deal with Modern because it is cheaper. He says the company would also offer the city $375,000 in credits if it signs a ten year deal. But Lovejoy District Council member Richard Fontana says lawmakers haven't had a chance to make a full review of the proposals. Fontana says a special meeting was scheduled for Wednesday morning to discuss the waste issue.

"We were never afforded the opportunity to discuss these two proposals," Fontana said. "In fact, we don't even have the proposal filed with the Council. We only have the final numbers filed with the Council."

But Majority leader Marc Coppola disagrees.

"I think is somewhat disingenuous to say this item has not been discussed," Coppola said. "It was discussed last week in committee."

The difference between the two proposals is American Ref-Fuel's calls for direct hauling of waste. Currently, garbage is taken to the transfer station then is hauled to a landfill.

American Ref-Fuel say is willing to negotiate the costs with the city.

"I think we could come up with a proposal that would be less expensive than any other proposal shown," said Kevin O'Neil, the company's marketing manager.

The Council recessed its session so lawmakers can return Wednesday to take a final vote on a new contract.