By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
On Monday of last week I was pressed into service and sent to Augusta to testify in opposition to LD 1363 before the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resource.
LD 1363, “An Act to Ensure Landfill Capacity and Promote Recycling,” was submitted by Rep. Benjamin Chipman, I—Portland. It would amend existing law to prohibit state-owned, solid-waste-disposal facilities from accepting waste from the Processing and Recycling Facilities if the waste coming to these facilities originated outside of the state.
KTI Biofuels in Lewiston would be catastrophically impacted by this change. KTI accepts wood waste, construction and demolition debris and bulky waste for processing and recycling. Much of the material that KTI processes comes from out of state. After processing, 78 percent of this material is recycled in a variety of forms, including wood chips used as fuel, recovered metals and aggregates and alternative daily cover used at Juniper Ridge in lieu of virgin soil.
If adopted, LD 1363 would result in KTI’s closure. This would be a significant blow to the economy of the Lewiston-Auburn region, as well as to Lewiston’s budget.
At any one time, KTI has 25 full-time and between 15 to 30 full-time temporary employees. Its annual payroll is about $2.2 million. Its closure would affect an estimated 50 to 75 trucking jobs with the loss of an estimated $6 million and economic impact and would negatively affect other local and Maine businesses, including those from whom KTI purchases goods and services and those who use KTI provided wood chips for fuel.
The city would lose $61,000 in property taxes and $120,000 in free disposal benefits provided to us by KTI. A city-created development corporation would lose $36,000 in annual lease payments, funds that are reinvested in economic development projects in our community. Taken together, we’re facing loss revenues or increased costs of over $215,000 per year.
KTI has operated in Lewiston for many years. It has been a responsible corporate citizen. Recently, it has invested significantly in improving its property and operations and has increased its overall rate of material recycling and recovery.
Lewiston and our friends and neighbors who are employed at KTI cannot afford to lose these jobs and the positive impact of this operation on our economy. This is especially true as we struggle with a weak economy and high unemployment and as the city faces potential significant losses in state shared revenues.
The Legislature must defeat this legislation and allow KTI to continue to operate to the benefit of those it employs, those it serves and to the City of Lewiston.
I would remind readers that at present we have been negatively impacted by layoffs at Geiger Brothers, the closing of White Rock Distilleries and the failure of our state Legislature to pass legislation in order to pay their debt to our local hospitals. This payment would trigger the creation of 160 to 200 good-paying jobs with benefits. It would also allow those currently employed at these institutions some stress relief knowing that their jobs would not be eliminated.
Finally, after many years of dedicated service to the citizens of Lewiston, Anita Murphy is being inducted into Auburn/Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame. Her coaching skills and passion for tennis brought many state championships to Lewiston, putting our city on the map as a tennis powerhouse.
Thank you, Anita, for a job well done!