December 2, 2021

Hiring of county recycling coordinator on hold

Recycling stock image

It may be awhile before Cortland County gets a new recycling coordinator due to coronavirus pandemic.

“We do not have a hiring freeze in place, but we are not hiring other than necessary people until such time as we are past this emergency,” said County Administrator Rob Corpora. “Some are calling this a hiring freeze. Currently the recycling coordinator is not an essential employee, so we will not be hiring one at this time.”

Legislature Paul Heider (R-Cuyler, Solon, Truxton) had said the county was in a hiring freeze. However, Legislator Ann Homer (D-Cortland) said such a freeze requires a resolution to be passed by the Legislature.

The county has been searching for a recycling coordinator since January after former coordinator Renee Parks moved into a scale operator position at the county landfill.

Parks, who was hired in April, was in charge of the operations at the recycling center and educating the public on recycling in the county, including what would be accepted at the center when the county took control of operations from Casella Waste Systems at the beginning of the year.

Highway Superintendent Charlie Sudbrink, who oversees the recycling center, said he planned to interview a couple of applicants the first week of May. However, he’s unsure if that will happen now.

“It is difficult to interview for a position when you should not be bringing them into the office,” Corpora said. “Phone interviews are a good start, but it does not replace an in-person interview. I do not want to speak for Charlie, but I think at the time the thought was the executive order would be lifted by April 30 and the first week in May would be good to start interviews, and then the governor extended it yesterday to May 15.”

Until a coordinator is hired, Sudbrink said he and Deputy Highway Superintendent Trisha Jessett are overseeing everything at the recycling facility on Pendleton Street.

“We both go down there at least once a day,” he said.

The county took over the recycling program Jan. 1.

A fire three days later destroyed the Taylor GarbageServices facility in Tioga County that took the county’s recyclables and its backup — Bert Adams Disposal in Binghamton — was at capacity and could take little more.

Since then, the county received — and extended — a state Department of Environmental Conservation variance to haul recyclables to the landfill and to compost cardboard. In March, it trashed nearly 40 tons of recyclables a week, but has since cut that in half.

“We’ve cut the amount of recycling that goes to the landfill down to about 20 tons per week,” Sudbrink said. “Basically every other load is going to Bert Adams now.”

He also said Taylor Garbage is on track for rebuilding its facility by August after the construction was deemed essential.