Scavenger Hunt Goes On

    The East Hampton Town Board will listen to comments tonight about the future of the town’s scavenger waste treatment plant, which is on Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton.
    The board suspended waste treatment at the plant earlier this year and has been operating the facility as a transfer station that allows haulers to unload waste there, which is then trucked to a processing facility upIsland by a carter paid by the town.
    However, three board members — a majority — have now proposed temporarily closing the site altogether, until long-term decisions are made. Tonight’s hearing will focus on that idea. The hearing begins at Town Hall at 7 p.m.
    The future of the waste treatment plant is discussed in detail in an updated report issued recently by the town’s budget and finance advisory committee, which has endorsed the temporary closure of the transfer facility.
    Among the issues discussed in the report is the facility’s actual cost this year to the town, based on various scenarios.
    The two board members who wanted to accept an offer by ClearFlo Technologies, a private wastewater management firm, to lease and then buy the plant — Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley — have told the other board members that by blocking the sale they are responsible for a 2012 budget deficit.
    The majority found ClearFlo’s proposal, the sole response to a request for proposals, untenable, raising environmental as well as financial questions.
    Len Bernard, the town budget officer, has said that the deficit could amount to $750,000. However, in its report, the budget and finance advisory committee says that the actual cost to the town of continuing to run the plant as a transfer station for several months this year would be more like $230,000, “for which no provision was made in the 2012 budget.”
    The committee noted that certain expenses, such as the cost of a Department of Environmental Conservation-required cleanup of tanks at the plant, were known last year, and cannot be attributed to the January decision not to sell the plant. “It would have been prudent in the fall of 2011 to have considered this cost in the 2012 budget and put about $100,000 aside for it,” says the report. “At that time there was no proposal from a third party for privatization of the plant.”
    Other costs, the committee wrote in its report, also stem from events in prior years, such as some $206,000 owed to the town for use of the plant, and cannot be attributed to the board majority’s decision this year.
    The budget and finance committee has also endorsed the idea of closing the transfer station.