Trash service prices said lower than expected

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lewisburg's City Council was scheduled Tuesday night to consider bids for trash disposal out of concern that Cedar Ridge Landfill might have to close.

Monday was the deadline for comments to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation on basic questions such as: Should the landfill be closed for environmental reasons, or might it be expanded for economic reasons?

Without answers that might come within a month - or take longer if there's an appeal - municipal and county leaders are taking steps so they'll have a final repository for household garbage if the landfill must close.

Among the early steps was acquisition of prices from businesses that could solve the problem. On Friday, trash disposal costs appeared lower than expected when bids were opened in Lewisburg City Hall in anticipation of their review Tuesday night by Council.

"I thought it would be higher," Lewisburg City Manager Eddie Fuller said after bids were obtained on a request from the Council during its meeting in January. "We're paying $12.50 now" per month for service to each household.

Three bids were received, but one was discarded because it only provided prices for Chapel Hill when Lewisburg and Cornersville were to be included.

Allied Waste has the apparent best bid at $11.75 per month per household including a 90-gallon trash cart on wheels that would be made available for each house. Collections would be hauled to a transfer station in Giles County and then to Middlepoint Sanitary Landfill at Walter Hill north of Murfreesboro. Browning Ferris Industries of Phoenix, Ariz., is the parent company. Its local office is at Murfreesboro. Allied was represented by Troy Shanks, John Doyen and Jerry Burke at the bid opening.

Advanced Disposal of Jacksonville, Fla., had the other bid for all three municipalities. It was represented by Michael Cosman from the Franklin, Tenn. Office which bid $13.53 per month per household without a cart and $14.52 per month per household with a cart. Advanced Disposal would take trash collections to Columbia. From there, transfer trucks would haul the garbage to Camden, Tenn., where Waste Management has another landfill.

The prices are good for 90 days and are in contracts that could last three years, including two one-year extensions, according to discussion at the bid opening.

The prices are "great," according to Cornersville City Manager Taylor Brandon who also asked if his city could join the contract with Lewisburg later if Lewisburg locked in on the price.

He was told that could be the topic of discussion later, according to an observer of the bid opening.

Cornersville, like Chapel Hill, has a contract with Waste Management for household collection. Lewisburg has its own garbage trucks and crews. They're also how recyclable paper, plastic and metal are collected in Lewisburg. The county's Solid Waste Department receives, sorts and sends those materials to Nashville when another company receives, sells and shares some of the money paid for the recyclable materials.

TDEC Commissioner Jim Fyke's spokeswoman, Meg Lockhart, says his decision for or against landfill expansion will probably be known in March. Waste Management has a couple of months thereafter to file an appeal to an adverse decision. The company's forum would be at a meeting of the state's Solid Waste Control Board.

While there's no final decision, Fyke's tentative decision on Dec. 16 against expansion appears to have prompted local governments to take more steps toward being ready if the landfill is closed.

Marshall County commissioners on the county's Solid Waste Committee have developed short- and long-term plans on what to do, but they've not been sanctioned by the commission. The short-term plan includes an annual solid waste fee of $160 per household in parts of the county not currently served by municipalities.