THROOP -- The operators of a landfill in Lackawanna County received a message from one of the communities it covers. Throop's borough council has officially said no to Keystone Landfill's proposed expansion.
The final decision rests with the state, but the vote by Throop could have consequences for people who live in the region.
Keystone Sanitary Landfill is in both Dunmore and Throop. It is looking to expand to allow 50 more years of garbage there.
While the decision will be up to the state Department of Environmental Protection, Throop borough council will let the DEP know that the landfill expansion does not have their support.
In Throop, the signs are there. People are split on whether the landfill it shares with Dunmore should expand, but Throop's borough council has taken a side, voting to send a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection saying it does not support the proposed expansion of Keystone Sanitary Landfill.
The DEP will make the final decision, but council president Rich Kucharski says council's vote could have real implications.
Kucharski was in the minority. He voted in favor of the expansion. His motivations are mostly financial.
"Given the fact that 90-plus percent of our budget comes from the landfill, you know, there's significant implications for the borough. I mean, to make up that money would be practically impossible," Kucharski said.
Kucharski also says Throop has a lifetime contract with Keystone. The landfill could see the vote as a breach of that contract and take the borough to court.
Throop would have no way to make up that money without raising taxes.
"That's a sad commentary, but it's a fact. Unfortunately, that's the situation we're in, and we depend on that landfill money to operate the borough."
Some residents we talked to say it's time for Throop to find another revenue stream.
"This town has everything. It benefited from the landfill, civic centers, parks, fire trucks, you name it. It did benefit from it, but I think it's time to move on to some other kind of income coming in here because, like I said, I don't know, the landfill keeps getting closer," said William Shevchik.
The proposed expansion could keep Keystone open another 50 years. Other residents say why not keep the cash coming?
"I think, let them expand, why not? And if they don't, they're going to start paying taxes on their garbage here and then they're all going to be starting to complain again anyway," said Walter Marhelski.
The state's Department of Environmental Protection is still reviewing the landfill's proposal to expand it could still be months until there's a decision.