County revenue from Cedar Ridge to resume slowly

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Waste Management and area residents may have settled their case in federal court, but that doesn't mean Cedar Ridge Landfill is generating much revenue for Marshall County's Solid Waste Department.

"Our estimate shows zero, now," Marshall County Solid Waste Director Morgan Thomas recently told county commissioners on the Solid Waste Committee as they reviewed Thomas' current and proposed budgets.

That revenue part of the solid waste budget is increasing from zero this year to $200,000 in the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal year. Most of that $200,000 is anticipated after Jan. 1.

Marshall County is paid host fees by Cedar Ridge Landfill because Waste Management has a contract with the county that was approved by its commissioners years ago. Host fees have exceeded $300,000 annually, but payments ended when Waste Management closed Cedar Ridge as it came close to being full. That was during the now concluded permitting process that included state environmental boards as well as the federal court case.

Federal litigation ended with an agreement by the company to purchase the Garrett seep where pollutants emerge from the ground. Waste Management had already been awarded a permit to expand operations at Cedar Ridge, but the citizens' litigation was enough to postpone use of the permit.

A resumption of deliveries to Cedar Ridge will include trash from Marshall County convenience centers that Waste Management kept open while it sought a permit to expand operations at the landfill west of Lewisburg.

"They start receiving in July," Thomas said, anticipating resumption of deliveries as the 2012-13 fiscal year begins. "Then, depending on weather conditions and other set backs, I anticipate full operation in 2013."

However, that schedule is up to Waste Management, so Thomas remained cautious. Furthermore, payments follow calculations on how much has been delivered.

Weather conditions always affect operations at landfills, but Waste Management will soon be building a new cell where trash may be buried. That includes placement of a thick, man-made fabric to be a liner for the bottom of the new cell. It's to catch and channel leachate - that's liquids in trash buried with the garbage - so it may be collected.

Meanwhile, Thomas reported Waste Management's plan to upgrade convenience centers it runs for the county. Half the money collected in host fees is used to pay Waste Management for its operation of the convenience centers.

Paving of the high traffic areas at convenience centers is anticipated, Thomas said. That's for all centers except one at Chapel Hill that was already improved.

Repair of the trash bins was also planned.

"Most just needed to be sandblasted and painted," Thomas said.

Solid waste committeemen advocate county commissioners' acceptance of Thomas' budget that shows spending planned at $565,000 from revenue and fund balances of $613,600.

After estimating revenues from the host fee at $200,000, the second greatest single source of revenue is recycling cardboard at $115,000.

Remarkably, when revenue from the sale of cardboard, paper, plastic and scrap metals are combined, the sum is $275,000, or $75,000 more than what's expected from the host fee. The sale of recyclables is 37.5 percent greater than the host fee.

As with most budgets, the amounts budgeted for personnel are among the larger dollar amounts, but half of the $200,000 received from the host fee must be returned to Waste Management to cover its costs when operating the convenience centers. Nearly $52,000 is planned for spending on debt service to pay for money borrowed for equipment, including some that helps generate revenue from recycling.

The 2012-13 fiscal year is to start on July 1. However, as in previous years, the budget probably won't be adopted until some time in July.