An April 21 work
session brought New Hanover County Commissioners no closer to a permanent
solution for the county’s solid waste problem.
from two companies, Waste Industries and Waste Management, were discussed
during the work session.
proposals would haul waste out of the county, following the board’s November 2013
vote to issue a request for proposals that included transporting waste out of
The cost of the
proposals was higher than commissioners expected, spurring doubt and debate.
“I’m unconvinced as to how any of these proposals
save us money long-term. … Yes, we can purchase time and preserve air space but
at tremendous cost. That’s what I see. Those are the numbers that jump off the
page to me,” said Chairman Woody White.
In an opening
comment, County Manager Chris Coudriet assured commissioners a thorough vetting
process went into financial analyses prepared by New Hanover County Finance
Director Lisa Wurtzbacher.
“What you have
here is the best data that we have been able to attract and I think it sits the
board up to help you make a decision moving forward,” Coudriet said.
The tip fee,
currently $59 per ton, would see an increase under all three proposals ranging
from $61.20 to $81.32 per ton.
fragmenting the board was an announcement made by New Hanover County
Environmental Management Director Joe Suleyman.
the county is preparing engineering documents to submit to the N.C. Department
of Environment and Natural Resources that could extend the landfill’s lifespan from
45 to 60 years.
steepen side slopes in the landfill to yield additional capacity and raise the
height limit from 170 to 270 feet.
Suleyman said the changes could be approved as soon as August.
White asked how
the construction of a facility to divert additional construction and demolition
materials could impact the landfill’s lifespan. Construction and demolition materials account for 30 percent
of waste in the landfill.
Commissioner Thomas Wolfe asked how
much it would cost to construct a C&D facility. Suleyman estimated it would
cost $1.8 million, which he said could be funded under the current tip fee.
Suleyman said some
changes like hazardous household waste collection and curbside recycling
collection have decreased landfill accumulation and garnered revenue.
“Some of the steps we’ve taken, and they’ve been
albeit small steps…we’ve been able to absorb within our existing tip fee
structure. Our goal, if you will, is to minimize how much we put in that
landfill to begin with,” Suleyman said.
interest in permit modifications coupled with diversion of construction
and demolition materials as a cheaper solution.
Vice-Chair Beth Dawson asked
that long-term consequences be considered in addition to cost.
“I don’t know
that it’s necessarily going to be cheaper in the long run to continue if you
start adding realistic costs of what we should be putting aside. We’re talking
about looking at this either for short-term or long-term. I’m looking for the
long-term,” Dawson said.
action for the next board meeting.
would be to look forward to the next board meeting to make a decision on what
we all have been talking about for a year,” Dawson said.
White said his
earlier statements made it clear he wouldn’t support these proposals as presented. He added that he would be willing to hear Waste Management or Waste Industries respond
to his concerns.
“As one board
member, I’m certainly open to any and all other evidence to convince me
otherwise,” White said.