Dolby landfill still hot potato between state, Katahdin leaders

Posted Nov. 15, 2011, at 1:20 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 15, 2011, at 3:27 p.m.

EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — State and local leaders are working to determine who will run and pay operational costs for a landfill whose sale was crucial to the effort to revitalize the Katahdin region’s two paper mills.

Rep. Herbert Clark, D-Millinocket, is planning to tour the Dolby landfill next Monday with Rep. Jane Knapp, R-Gorham, a member of the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee who helped engineer the passage of the bill that allowed the state to buy the landfill.

East Millinocket and Millinocket leaders also met in Augusta on Monday with members of the LePage administration to discuss the issue.

At issue is the approximately $200,000 operational cost of the landfill and how much of that the towns would pay. The state’s purchase of the landfill removed what was probably the largest impediment to the sale of the East Millinocket and Millinocket mills earlier this year. No potential owner of the mills would want to take on the liability for a landfill, state leaders said.

Now, town leaders say that they cannot absorb the operational costs and that their municipal workers lack the expertise to donate many in-kind services to it. Clark, who originated the landfill sale bill, said he is surprised at the latest dispute.

“I feel that the ownership [state government] should take care of the landfill,” Clark said Tuesday. “If the towns could assist in other ways, that’s fine, but as far as I am concerned, it is primarily a state issue. We [state legislators] just took for granted they wouldn’t have this problem.”

East Millinocket Administrative Assistant Shirley Tapley declined to comment on the Augusta meeting in detail.

“We are still working on it [the landfill issue] at this point,” she said.

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