- Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 10:30
- Published on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:30
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Up to additional 30K tons allowable by year’s end
The King George Board of Supervisors has approved an amendment to the county’s landfill agreement with Waste Management that will allow the company to bring in up to an additional 30,000 tons of trash by the end of this month.
The additional tonnage would add up to $150,000 more in tipping fees to the county. The unanimous action took place last week at a meeting on Dec. 3.
Waste Management District Manager Tom Cue had previously signaled that the request could be made while providing his regular quarterly report to the board at a meeting back on Oct. 15.
At the time, Cue told Supervisors that tonnage for the third quarter of the calendar year came to the 312,000 tons, bringing the total for the first three quarters to 933,000 at that point.
The landfill contract has tonnage caps that limit the amount of trash to a maximum of 312,000 tons per quarter. That adds up to 1,248,000 tons as the contractual limit allowed for each year.
Cue told Supervisors at that October meeting, that he’d had a recent phone call from a potential new customer who hoped to bring 60-70,000 tons to the landfill by the end of the calendar year.
Cue said if that firmed up, he would likely request a small increase in tonnage for the year that he hoped Supervisors would entertain.
While presenting the action item at last week’s meeting, Travis Quesenberry, county administrator, noted, “This will make up for tonnage that we didn’t get several years ago.”
The action will allow a maximum of 2,278,000 tons for the current calendar year.
POSSIBILITY OF VERTICAL EXPANSION
Supervisors have also been mulling a request from Cue to consider a proposal to allow for vertical expansion of the landfill. That potential was first tossed out last January.
That would require a major contract change from the county as well as a permit amendment from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to increase the height of the landfill by allowing it to go up to 100 feet higher at its highest point. There would be no change in the landfill’s footprint.
The existing language in the landfill contract addresses the landfill height, saying, “At no time shall the height of the surface of the facility exceed 275 feet from sea level…”
The primary benefit to the county to allow the proposed expansion would be to add about 15 more years to the life of the landfill. That would mean over $90 million additional for the county over the extended timeframe as proposed.
Cue estimated earlier this year that the landfill currently still has about 15 years of life, meaning a total of about 30 more years of dependable annual income of about $6.2 million per year, with his proposed vertical expansion.
The proposal is being carefully and publicly considered.
Cue has previously told Supervisors that if the permitted height of the landfill were to be approved, it would not be out of line with the heights of other landfills in the state, with two in Fairfax County which are over 300 feet high, one in Sussex County permitted at a height limit of 510 feet and one at Bethel near Newport News permitted to go to 375 feet.
The average height of a landfill in the United States is 320 feet.
Cue is planning to take Supervisors to visit the Sussex County Landfill. The Sussex County Landfill is operated by Waste Management as Atlantic Waste Disposal, Inc.
A date for that visit is now expected to be selected for early in 2014.
HISTORICAL USE OF LANDFILL REVENUE
The landfill opened in 1996 and revenue started immediately rolling in.
For the first three fiscal years, Supervisors used $750,000 of about $4,000,000 in landfill revenue into the general operating budget. The rest of the landfill revenue went into the Capital Improvements Fund.
Also, for the first several years, a portion of that revenue was spent annually on much-needed maintenance and renovation projects to both county and school holdings, along with playing catch-up on some vehicle purchases for schools and county.
In 1999-2000, Supervisors reduced the amount to $700,000 and put a stop to all future year transfers to the county’s general operating budget. The idea was not to have the county operating budget dependent on landfill revenue, which was expected to continue for about 30 years.
1999-2000 was the same year that Supervisors shifted payment of debt service for large capital projects, including schools and government buildings, to be paid from the Capital Improvements Fund funded by landfill revenue.
In the meantime, the county’s portion of the landfill revenue increased to a relatively steady amount, adding up to about $6,200,000 per year.