By a vote of 7 to 2 the Southbridge Town Council voted down a proposed amendment to the contract with Casella.
I have listened with interest to the debate regarding this amendment.
After listening to tonight’s discussion I have come to the conclusion that the Council has made a serious mistake.
In my opinion the Council should have amended the agreement to deal with the two primary areas of contention pointed out by Town Manager Paicos – the acceptance of out-of-town leachate and the clawback arrangement.
Although I never thought I would say this, I agreed strongly with the sentiment expressed by former Town Council Chair Cathy Nikolla. The agreement would have provided what Manager Paicos called breathing space in allowing the town to extend the revenue stream from the landfill. This is especially important in light of the Council’s decision not to raise taxes. The need is to use that extended time and revenue to develop alternatives to the landfill’s contribution to the community’s coffers.
The whole preoccupation with leachate is a red herring. As was repeatedly pointed out, we already have leachate. The problem is how we dispose of it. By pre-treating it and sending the treated water to our water treatment facility we actually reduce the risks associated with our current methods of disposal.
In addition, the permitting of a site assignment on the triangle land does little to affect anything other than the longevity of our revenue stream.
Also we would increase the potential value of additional property for the industrial park site due to the presence of sewer lines that do not currently exist.
My only real reservation, aside from the alterations mentioned above, is the financing mechanism. I do not like imposing an additional constraint on the town’s future bonding capacity as well as being further dependent upon Casella for repaying the principal and interest on that loan.
However, that is the apparent consequence of the deal we made with Casella in the first place as well as our fiscal carelessness over the last seven years.
I hope that s new Council will resurrect this proposal with the mentioned revisions. Otherwise be prepared for either dramatic tax increases or severe service cutbacks or both.