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LETTER: Ferrara responds following Tuesday meeting where draft host agreement with landfill was defeated

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  • Digital Team 

The following is a letter to the editor written by Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Mike Ferrara. If you’d like to submit a letter to the editor for consideration send it to [email protected] with your name, home community, and please keep the letter under 2,000 words.

I wish to set the record straight on comments made by Councilperson Laskoski regarding the tentative Host Community Agreement (HCA) and the negotiations that led to it.

First and foremost, there is no conflict of interest having the top negotiator from the law firm of Bond Schoeneck & King (BS&K) on the Town’s negotiating committee that negotiated the new tentative HCA that will only go into effect if the DEC allows SMI to expand their operations. The Town attorney, Pat Morell, previously advised me that engaging my brother did not present a conflict of interest, pursuant to General Municipal Law 800.3.

For the Record—Councilperson Laskoski was a member of the negotiating committee from day one and obviously knew all the committee members who attended the 8-10 meetings that were held. The full committee included two BS&K attorneys (-Environmental, -Management Negotiator), the Town Attorney for the Town of Seneca Falls, an engineer from Barton Loguidice (B &L), me and Councilperson Laskoski. 

For the Record—Councilperson Laskoski co-signs every check that is paid by the Town (including payments to BS&K) and is provided the detailed invoice for each corresponding check. 

For the Record— Each Board member needs to initial each voucher that is presented for payment and the corresponding invoices are attached to the voucher. In other words, each Board member was aware that BS&K was engaged by the Town for their involvement in the HCA negotiations and were privy to detailed narrative descriptions of the legal work being performed on a regular basis. 

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For the Record— SMI brought attorneys from Texas and New York, engineers, and SMI vice-presidents to the negotiating table. To protect the interests of the people of Seneca Falls, I put together the best negotiating team possible. Attorney Ferrara is a highly respected negotiator, has been recognized as one of the top attorneys in the State by his peers, included in Best Lawyers in America for past 15 years, and has been negotiating contracts for fortune 500 companies, municipalities, and school districts for the past 35 years. BS&K is one of the 250 largest and most respected law firms in the country.

For the Record—If the HCA odor control requirements are not complied with, the HCA provides either code enforcement action and/or a legal basis to initiate suit against SMI. Significant odor prevention measures have already been put in place by SMI which accounts for the dramatic decline in odor complaints.

For the Record—The Town’s negotiating team worked very hard to get the people of Seneca Falls a new tentative HCA that includes over $174 million dollars over 15 years, imposes strict requirements for odor control, eliminates SMI construction and garbage vehicles from downtown Seneca Falls, and ensures the Town’s solid waste will be collected at no charge to the taxpayers of Seneca Falls. This agreement was negotiated with one singular focus: to protect the interests of the people of Seneca Falls. The new HCA has zero impact on the landfill closing or staying open. The DEC and only the DEC will make that decision.

But, if the DEC extends the landfill operation, we have an incredibly competitive and economically strong new HCA that will provide substantial benefits to our Town residents. The negotiating team, and the full Board (except Mr. Churchill), firmly believed that the Town was in a better position to negotiate now in case the DEC approves the expansion. The benefits in the new HCA far outweigh the benefits in the existing HCA and will greatly help reduce taxes and provide other benefits for the wellbeing of our citizens. Common sense plainly confirms that the Town would have little or no leverage if we waited to negotiate until after SMI had secured their operation permit. 

Lastly, make no mistake that Councilperson Laskoski’s last minute position reversal was for one reason and one reason only—-embarrass me and undermine my efforts to continue to be your Town Supervisor. Whether I get reelected or not I believe this new HCA is the best agreement for the Town, and I truly hope any future Board sees fit to protect the interests of our citizens.

Thank you for taking the time to allow me to set the record straight, and I sincerely appreciate your continued support.