Newsday Editorial

Stinky choices at Brookhaven landfill

Originally published: February 27, 2012 6:35 PM
Updated: February 27, 2012 7:33 PM

To fix its budget, the Town of Brookhaven is thinking of plugging the hole with garbage. It stinks, but the town may have no choice. If it goes that way, though, the town must find ways to mitigate the impact on the landfill's neighbors.

The odor is a key reason why expanding the Yaphank landfill is an unpleasant option. Though it takes only ash and construction debris, neighbors say it smells already, and bringing in more won't help. Still, that's the unpalatable possibility that Supervisor Mark Lesko placed before Brookhaven's landfill advisory committee.

Here's why he is considering the unpopular idea: Pre-Lesko, the town kept property taxes down, because two revenues driven by its growth -- the mortgage recording tax and landfill fees -- were strong. But the recession killed both. The mortgage tax is still lagging, but the town did attract additional trash by discounting rates for carters who brought more. So a larger landfill could fetch $2 million to $3 million a year more.

The town has cut spending 26 percent, and it doesn't want to turn to a property tax increase; it would be staggeringly steep. So, the landfill seems the least awful option.

The easiest expansion is vertical, not horizontal. But either needs state environmental approvals, and either would burden neighbors. In effect, a few would suffer to solve a town wide problem.

So they deserve better odor-reduction -- and considerations such as lowered property tax assessments.

Anything less would just stink.