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COUNTY Can landfill be privatized?

The OBSERVER’s View

The opening of a new transfer station in Warren County, Pa., sparks a radical idea here in Chautauqua County — is it time to privatize the county’s waste transfer stations?

Chautauqua County currently has four transfer stations: one in Falconer, one in Fredonia, one in Sherman and one at the landfill in Ellery. We’re not suggesting the stations or their employees do a bad job. Quite to the contrary, they appear to do a good job given that the landfill and its subsidiary programs that comprise the enterprise account turn a profit each year.

Why would the county get out of the waste business if it’s a moneymaker? We can think of a couple. The county is still on the hook for employee benefits, for one, a legacy cost that could become an albatross down the road for taxpayers.

Why shouldn’t private companies bear the cost of operating some of the recycling infrastructure rather than county taxpayers? Privatizing the transfer stations could add to the tax base in towns and villages aching to put properties on the tax rolls. Lastly, privatizing could create competition in the marketplace that may be beneficial to consumers.

We’re not saying privatizing the transfer stations should happen next week. But we do think county lawmakers need to consider the idea.

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