Waste Management offers help

Friday, July 24, 2009

FRANKLIN - Waste Management has offered to help Marshall County conduct its recycling program "at no cost to the county" as the company's host fee payments have dropped because Cedar Ridge Landfill is accepting only a quarter of the trash it's normally buried.

Robert Cheney, business development director for Cedar Ridge Landfill and Waste Management Inc. of Tennessee, advised Marshall County Solid Waste Director Morgan Thomas of the offer on Thursday when county residents were becoming aware that county commissioners are considering a $60 annual solid waste fee to cover a shortfall in revenue from the landfill.

Men and machines are being offered to Marshall County to help continue its recycling program that's suffered a loss in revenue as trash deliveries are curtailed while landfill officials wait for a state decision on expansion of the facility west of Lewisburg.

The landfill "has been forced to reduce the volume we receive on a daily basis to roughly 25 percent of our historical levels in order to conserve limited airspace [where trash would be deposited] while we await the decision from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation on our expansion request," Cheney wrote to Thomas.

"In doing so," Cheney said, "an unintended consequence of this volume reduction has been insufficient revenues to cover the cost of the county's recycling activities."

On June 29, Thomas told the county commissioners' Solid Waste Committee that there was a $210,000 shortfall in revenue from host fees paid by Cedar Ridge for operations of the Solid Waste Department.

That's about half of what was actually paid since half of the host fees are returned to Waste Management for its operation of the county's convenience centers. Those operations won't change regardless of the volumes received at Cedar Ridge, Cheney said.

Marshall County keeps half of the host fees to run the department led by Thomas, and Cheney acknowledged: the shortfall in revenue suffered by the county; all of what it funds; and why a solid waste tax is proposed.

County commissioners are scheduled to consider recommendations for the solid waste fee when they meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the Courthouse Annex on Lewisburg's public square.

"It is clear the tax is intended to fund the recycling services for Marshall County residents, schools and businesses," Cheney said.

"With this in mind, Waste Management offers to temporarily assist the Solid Waste Department in the collection of recyclables by making available to you the equipment and manpower necessary to provide recycling services at the four convenience centers, a modified cardboard collection route, and weekly collection of recyclables from the schools in Marshall County," the business development director for Cedar Ridge Landfill said.

Those services are offered at no cost to the county and its residents until the state decides on a landfill expansion permit, Cheney said. The services, if accepted, will not be continued after the state announces its decision on the expansion.

If expansion is allowed, more trash deliveries will be accepted and county revenues will increase, he said.

If the permit were denied, Cheney said, "The timing would then be appropriate to address additional taxes... Waste Management would appreciate the opportunity to assist" county commissioners as they contemplate a proposed solid waste tax.