Lower fees and stop poaching, city says

Friday, January 16, 2009

Even though Waste Management Inc. has promised free dumping to Lewisburg if the company that owns Cedar Ridge Landfill gets state permission to expand, the company ought to eliminate another fee it charges the city.

That's among several messages sent to Bill Griggs, co-owner of Griggs & Maloney environmental engineers hired by Marshall County's Commission to develop a plan on what to do if the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) doesn't permit expansion of Cedar Ridge.

Another suggestion is from City Attorney Bill Haywood who noted residents from other counties have used Marshal County convenience centers, so the consultant should find a way to stop other from poaching county services.

Meanwhile, the city council has voted to let Waste Management's landfill expansion permit application proceed and the company has promised to stop charging the city its tipping fee when Lewisburg residents' garbage collections are dumped at the landfill. However, the company is still charging a portion of the host fee it must pay to the county.

Municipalities in Marshall County shouldn't have to pay a host fee collected by the landfill operators, according to City Manager Eddie Fuller who said he was expressing his own opinion and not one for the city.

However, from his vantage point as city manager, he said he knows that city residents are also residents of the county and that they are, in effect, paying for a service they don't use much, if at all.

That's because Lewisburg residents' household trash is collected by city employees and so the residents don't have to go to a convenience center to dispose of their household trash.

County convenience centers are funded by the host fees collected by Waste Management at Cedar Ridge. The money is received by the county which splits it n half. One part pays for the Solid Waste Department. The other is paid back to Waste Management for its operation of the convenience centers.

Lewisburg pays approximately $6,000 annually in host fees at Cedar Ridge.

"It's not much" Fuller said, comparing it to other costs, "but every little bit helps."

The city budgeted $130,000 for tipping fees this fiscal year. That's to be waived if the state allows expansion of the landfilling.

If TDEC doesn't grant Waste Management a pert t use land on the landfill property for more landfilling, then the landfill might have to close by next winter, according to company officials who have estimated they may get an answer from the state this summer.

Even if the permit is granted, county commissioners want to know what they should do when the landfill does close. The requested permit might allow the landfill to continue operations for seven years, depending on delivery schedules.

As a result, Griggs is holding public meetings with elected leaders and then with the public on what should be done when Cedar Ridge is closed.

Transfer stations have been discussed by some officials, but that was addressed with a zoning ordinance to prevent garbage transfer stations in the city, unless they're on land that's appropriately classified as permitted by a council vote.

Other discussion during Griggs' consultation with Lewisburg's Council included observations that the curbside recycling program is being expanded and that the household trash collection service is being modified to accommodate the change, so the city seems to have addressed those issues.