Trash fees might stay same with lower-priced garbagemen

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Attending the county meeting on trash services are, from left, John Doyen of Allied Waste's Murfreesboro office, and Gerry Burke, Allied's Tennessee area municipal services manager whose office is in Memphis.

If Lewisburg contracts with a private hauler for trash collection and disposal when Cedar Ridge Landfill closes, assuming that it does, then monthly service fees might remain the same here.

Even though a private hauler might do it for less, the city has other collection routes, City Manager Eddie Fuller explained on Thursday last week during a meeting of the Marshall County Solid Waste Committee.

"I'm not saying we'll reduce it because we'll still pickup recyclables and brush," Fuller said, responding to a question from County Commissioner Wilford "Spider" Wentzel.

A shift from public works garbage collection to a private hauler's trash service is being contemplated as residents of Marshall County and its municipalities are awaiting a decision by the state on whether Cedar Ridge Landfill may use property over and around a sinkhole for land-filling trash. Without the expansion permit, the landfill will run out of space this year. Expansion would add several years to the facility's lifespan.

Jim Fyke, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, TDEC, said in late December that he was not planning on issuing an expansion permit for Cedar Ridge. He also set Feb. 8 as a deadline for final comments on the tentative decision. Monday, TDEC spokeswoman Meg Lockhart said a decision isn't expected until after next week. While there's no deadline for the commissioner's decision, Lockhart said, the department had set Feb. 8 as a goal on when the decision would be announced.

Even then, if the decision is against issuance of the requested expansion permit, then Waste Management Inc., the company that owns Cedar Ridge Landfill, could still appeal that decision to the state Solid Waste Disposal Control Board.

That background has been known by members of the county Solid Waste Committee for months and, in that time, short- and long-term plans have been laid on what to do, since the county has a responsibility to provide a trash disposal plan for the county.

One large contract has been seen as more efficient that two or more contracts and so County Commissioner Don Ledford, chairman of the Solid Waste Committee, has been calling for participation by the municipalities.

In January, Fuller told Lewisburg's City Council that he and managers from Chapel Hill and Cornersville have been meeting on the idea of having one contract for the municipalities. The Council directed him to get bids and they came in with prices that would be lower than Lewisburg's current monthly fee, which is $12.50.

Early analysis of the several bids show that Allied Waste has the apparent best bid at $11.75 per month per household including a 90-gallon trash cart that would be made available to each house. Collections would be hauled to a transfer station in Giles County and then to Middle Point Sanitary Landfill at Walter Hill in Rutherford County north of Murfreesboro. Browning-Ferris Industries of Phoenix, Ariz., is the parent company. Its local office is at Murfreesboro.

With Fuller at the county Solid Waste meeting last week, Ledford said, "We believe communications are open."

Several Lewisburg councilmen had said nine days earlier that they wanted cooperation with the county to obtain the best price and service.

Ledford confirmed for Fuller on Thursday that Cornersville and Chapel Hill have had representatives and/or residents at the county committee meetings, so it appeared that the governments could be joining forces.

"We'll probably have something on our March agenda about accepting the $11.75 bid," Fuller told Ledford and his committeemen.

The price is seen as lower than what Cornersville is paying to Waste Management Inc. now for its services. The parent company of Cedar Ridge Landfill also serves Chapel Hill residents through a town contract.