The Brookhaven landfill is the town's second-biggest source of income after property...

The Brookhaven landfill is the town's second-biggest source of income after property taxes. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

More than a year before it is scheduled to start closing, the Brookhaven landfill is taking in less trash from construction sites and leaving town officials with a potential $4 million hole in the town's 2024 operating budget.

The 192-acre landfill in Brookhaven hamlet, Brookhaven's second-biggest source of income after property taxes, is expected to generate $55 million next year, about a 7% drop compared to the $59 million it was expected to make in tipping fees this year.

The projected shortfall could be a harbinger of things to come as Brookhaven officials seek new sources of revenue to draw from after the landfill closes sometime in the next three years.

Town officials have said green energy projects, such as the Sunrise Wind wind-power project, which includes a 17.5-mile underground cable through Brookhaven, should help compensate for landfill revenue losses. Sunrise Wind is expected to generate a total of $168 million for Brookhaven over the next 25 years, officials have said.

Through September, earnings at the landfill totaled $36.7 million, or 62% of its projected income this year. 

The figures are contained in Supervisor Edward P. Romaine's proposed 2024 town budget, released at an Oct. 3 town board meeting. The $335.3 million budget proposes to hike spending by 1.6% and raise the town property tax levy about 1%.

The town board will hold a public hearing on the budget at 5 p.m. on Nov. 9, Romaine said at the meeting, adding he expects the board to vote on the spending plan later that month.

Brookhaven Finance Commissioner Tamara Branson, speaking at the meeting, blamed the drop in landfill income on “loss of volumes” as less trash was brought to the facility this year.

In a letter included in the proposed budget, Romaine said an anticipated $3.65 million increase in interest income from savings accounts — from $550,000 this year to $4.2 million next year — should help compensate for the landfill's revenue losses. 

"Landfill operations have been impacted negatively due to the impending closure, with declining volumes as customers find alternatives for the disposal of construction and debris," Romaine wrote.

Romaine has said the dump will cease accepting construction debris — more than 60% of the 1.1 million tons of waste buried annually at the landfill — in December 2024. The town will stop taking ash from waste-to-energy incinerators one to two years later, Romaine has said.

Some North Bellport-area residents last week called for the landfill's immediate closure after a Newsday investigation found officials at the Covanta Hempstead incinerator dumped ash for a decade at the Brookhaven landfill that it couldn’t be certain was nonhazardous.

Will Flower, vice president of Winters Bros. Waste Systems in West Babylon, said declines in landfill activity could be linked to a recent slowdown in new residential construction and home improvements. He said his company has picked up less waste from construction sites in recent months.

“That tells me that across Long Island, there is a slowdown in construction activities that we are seeing,” Flower said. “Our volume to the Brookhaven landfill is off, but so is all the other companies.”

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