THE ANSWERS ACCORD THE ISSUE GOVERNOR CUOMO AND MAYOR JENNINGS HAVE FOUND A MIDDLE GROUND IN DETERMINING PAYMENT FOR THE ANSWERS PLANT. OUR OPINION BOTH SIDES BENEFIT FROM THIS ARRANGEMENT.

Section: MAIN,  Page: A6

Date: Saturday, August 27, 1994

Governor Cuomo did both the state and the city of Albany a favor this year when he closed down the Office of General Services' garbage-burning plant in Sheridan Hollow. In one act, the governor managed to appease those city residents who long complained about the plant's pollution and to remove a blemish on the state's own environmental record.


Now Governor Cuomo and Mayor Jerry Jennings have taken one step further in improving the relations between city and state on the ANSWERS front. Last week, the two agreed that the state would pay Albany $18 million over four years as compensation for losses the city will suffer from the shutdown of the garbage incinerator.


Although the governor has yet to put the agreement in writing and not all the details have been finalized, the deal looks good for both sides.


Albany can use the first installment perhaps as much as $5 million of the $18 million to help close a budget deficit projected for next year. As for the state, it will get out of a contract that would have required it to pay $14 million to the city through 1999 for garbage to fuel the incinerator. What's more, the state will avoid spending millions of dollars on improvements to the plant to comply with clean-air regulations.


On the down side, Albany's landfill on Rapp Road will fill up quicker now that none of the city's garbage is incinerated. In fact, the city had sought $29 million in compensation, taking into account the lost landfill space. The state at first offered $12 million. As in most negotiations, the parties compromised on a figure in the middle.


Less than a year ago, the ANSWERS plant had been a source of contention between city residents and the state. It was, frankly, one of the dirtiest incinerators in the state, spewing ash over the immediate neighborhood and invisible poisons, such as dioxins and furans, over a wider stretch of the city. The plant provided an easy target for activists who argued, with some justice, that its existence called into question the state's commitment to the environment. The two agreements between Governor Cuomo and Mayor Jennings make the best of what had been a bad situation. That's the kind of politics that works.