Landfill chiefs detail help for MC operations

Friday, August 7, 2009

Waste Management Inc., the company that runs Cedar Ridge Landfill here, has sent a written explanation on how it will help Marshall County's Solid Waste Department continue operations, and county commissioners are to discuss it Monday.

"This offer will allow us to continue current service levels to residents through the end of 2010 or denial of 'Cell 7' by the state, which ever comes first," County Solid Waste Director Morgan Thomas has advised county leaders, including Commissioner Don Ledford, chairman of the Solid Waste Committee that's meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the second floor conference room of the Courthouse Annex on Lewisburg's Courthouse Square.

Cell 7 is the part of Cedar Ridge Landfill property that wasn't authorized for burial of trash when Waste Management acquired the landfill from another company. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has had an application from Waste Management for use of the land designated as Cell 7 for more than a year. Delays in TDEC's response include Lewisburg's lengthy consideration of whether plans to expand the landfill meet state standards.

Without an answer from the state, Waste Management has reduced what it will accept at Cedar Ridge to about 25 percent of the volume of trash it had been receiving about 18 months ago. That's reduced the host fee payments from the landfill to this county, which uses the money to pay for recycling services. Since that revenue to the Solid Waste Department dropped by three quarters of what had been paid, another source of revenue was sought, but county commissioners rejected the idea of imposing an annual solid waste fee of $60.

Knowing that its lower host fee payments to the county were reducing the county department's ability to provide services that are required by the state, Waste Management offered to provide men and machines to help Marshall County. Beyond maintaining a plan on how trash is to be collected and buried, the Department provides recycling programs at schools, retail store parking lots and collections at businesses. The County Solid Waste program is separate from the curbside collection service provided to Lewisburg residents since the spring of 2008.

"We will not have any layoffs," Thomas said this week of what's anticipated now that Waste Management has offered to help the county until the state makes a decision on whether the company may start developing Cell 7 at the landfill.

"A few of our commercial pickups will be affected," Thomas continued when reporting to county leaders this week. "However, we should be able to provide them with a recycling alternative.

"We will not be able to expand" county solid waste operations, Thomas said.

Meanwhile, the solid waste director is "working on a plan to continue services should the expansion be denied," he said. "The plan will fit into the 90-day window offered in this agreement (from Waste Management) and will require a revenue source."