Talkin’ trash ain’t cheap, consolidation to be adopted

by Kelly Corbett
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners is again discussing the future of solid waste and looking at what to do with the landfill that has a current life expectancy of 45 years.

Intended for information only, the Tuesday, Sept. 3 meeting agenda item transitioned into a discussion focused on options to preserve the county landfill, like increasing recycling and using private haulers.

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield criticized the New Hanover County comprehensive solid waste management plan consultant, Martin Sanford, of CDM Smith Inc., who presented Phase I results, for leaving out certain options, like refurbishing WASTEC.

“What I’ve found when it comes to solid waste is it’s a very dirty business from many aspects,” Barfield said. “… I’ve seen enough to know that I want to see all of the options available.”

County manager Chris Coudriet said it was not the best use of time and money to analyze data that already exists and was presented to prior boards.

“This is the only incinerator in the state of North Carolina,” chairman Woody White said. “The trends are recycling, better commoditization.”

While Barfield said he supports a countywide curbside recycling program but added it would take awhile for people to change their habits.

The public showed support for curbside recycling, yard waste collection, education and outreach, recycling more materials and more convenient drop-off sites.

CDM Smith, Inc. representatives found that less than 10 percent of construction and demolition waste is captured per year.

Sanford presented the first phase evaluation results. He said while former boards addressed the idea, private haulers would help reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.

“I don’t want us to be fearful of talking about transfer stations and shipping waste out of county,” White said.

The continued operation of the county landfill is estimated to save about $43 million throughout the next 20 years as opposed to transferring some or all of the waste out of the county to a private landfill.

“The goal should be to reduce the amount of material that ultimately ends up in the landfill,” Sanford said.

During the second phase, CDM Smith will develop a strategic plan with the board’s direction featuring financial breakdowns of the options. The full cost of the evaluation, resulting in the comprehensive solid waste management plan, is $131,000.

CDM Smith will return in two weeks to receive input and direction from the board. The Phase I results are available in a PDF on the homepage.

Health and human services

Fourteen study group members worked for five months to develop a recommendation to consolidate portions of county health and social services departments.

There are about 450 employees administering about 90 programs between the two entities, Coudriet said.

The recommendation would consolidate back office functions, like finance/budget and human resources, and support services functions, but would keep the two agencies and boards independent. The recommendation, with implementation steps ranging from three months to three years, also calls for joint meetings between the boards and future cross-appointments of members.

Coudriet said he wants to make sure they do not create a system where there is more bureaucracy.

Commissioners will be asked to adopt the recommendation during the Oct. 7 meeting.


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