City checking prices on trash service

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lewisburg is asking trash collection and disposal companies for prices and plans on how to help the city deal with the prospect of an end to operations at Cedar Ridge Landfill.

On a unanimous vote Tuesday, the City Council authorized City Manager Eddie Fuller to advertise the announcement. The deadline for the bids is Feb. 5, but the request for proposals includes more than service in Lewisburg.

"We've been talking about this for three to four months," Fuller said Thursday about on-going discussions he's had with Chapel Hill Town Administrator Mike Hatten and Cornersville City Administrator Taylor Brandon.

Chapel Hill and Cornersville have contracts with Waste Management, the company that owns and operates Cedar Ridge Landfill. The company provides curbside collection and disposes of the trash at Cedar Ridge, a facility for which Waste Management wants an expansion permit from the state.

Lewisburg runs its own garbage trucks that carry trash to Cedar Ridge. The city might turn to Waste Management Inc., or another such company for those services, according to discussion at City Hall prompted by state environmentalists' deliberations about the landfill west of Lewisburg.

Commissioner Jim Fyke of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has decided against issuing a draft permit toward approving Waste Management's use of more land at Cedar Ridge for burying trash.

"Waste Management didn't get its permit at this point in time," Fuller advised the Council during its monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Whether the company will get permission to expand, or whether Cedar Ridge must close because other parts of the landfill are nearly full, remains to be seen.

"We need to be prepared," Fuller advised the Council.

While Waste Management's spokeswoman, Terri Douglas has said the company will use all its administrative and legal avenues to remain in business at Cedar Ridge, the TDEC commissioner's tentative decision is supported by technical and geological data.

Still, Waste Management could appeal a denial by Fyke to the state's Solid Waste Control Board and, failing success there, to the Chancery Court of Davidson County.

With uncertainty on the outcome of those three forums, Lewisburg officials want to know what costs their city might face if the landfill must close.

A continuation of the level of service is sought for Lewisburg: "Once a week pickup like we're doing now," Fuller said.

The city's ad says responding businesses can "bid two ways, he said: "If they provide a can; and if residents provide a can."

Such a contract could lead to costs that are substantially similar to those already paid by the city for operation of its garbage trucks.

Marshall County's Solid Waste Committee has been studying similar issues. That county committee was scheduled to meet Thursday night in the Courthouse Annex to continue "fine tuning" of a resolution that would impose an annual $160 solid waste fee on all county households beyond the borders of the municipalities in the county.

"We'll look at the county's options and what they're going to do," Fuller said of his examination of the options for municipalities. Such information will apparently be shared with Chapel Hill and Cornersville officials.

County Solid Waste Manager Morgan Thomas has provided Fuller with a list of businesses that provide collection and disposal services "and we'll send them a Request for Proposals," Fuller said of the method of obtaining prices.

They include the establishment of a transfer station to receive local collections of trash that would be transferred to long-haul vehicles for disposal elsewhere.

"We could truck it to Allied Waste," Fuller said, referring to the owners of Middlepoint Sanitary Landfill at Walter Hill north of Murfreesboro.

"We could buy some property and build our own landfill," Fuller said, adding dryly, "That would be popular."

Councilman Robin Minor sought information on whether the state will hold another hearing on the landfill. That's a decision to be made by TDEC officials at their L&C Tower headquarters in Nashville.

Councilman Ronald McRady noted a large majority of trash buried at Cedar Ridge has been from beyond the county line and that recycling could greatly reduce the collection of trash.

McRady also endorsed cooperation between the municipalities and the county. That should be started with a joint meeting, he said.

Minor asked if bids could be obtained in time for the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Council on Feb. 9, and Fuller said yes.

Councilman Quinn Brandon Steward agreed that city officials should talk with county officials and she moved to authorize Fuller to call for bids. They're to be received on or before the first Friday in February.