Carter landfill runs into several expenses

John Thompson • Sep 7, 2012 at 9:58 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Landfill is facing some big expenses in a year when the budget is extremely tight.

The Landfill Committee met Thursday morning and learned the 25-year-old truck scales that weight the loads carried by garbage trucks need to be replaced. The estimated cost of new scales is around $60,000.

Just as the committee members were adjusting to that bit of bad news, Landfill Manager Bennie Lyons announced the bailer at the Carter County Recycling Center needed to be repaired. He said the cost of the repairs was around $12,000.

The needs were especially painful because the County Commission voted to reduce the county’s fund balance this fiscal year instead of raising property taxes or making deep cuts in the budget.

Fortunately, the landfill does have operational revenue to cover the costs. The committee made a motion to obtain bids on a new set of scales and transfer the funds from the landfill’s operating funds. No new money is needed.

The committee appeared to have no choice in repairing the scales. Randall Hardin of The Scale Works in Blountville attended the meeting. He installed the current scales 25 years ago.

“We have been putting bandages on the scale for over two years, doing everything possible to keep the scale up and going, no matter the circumstances. The time has come when bandages will no longer work and the scale will be rejected by the state,” Hardin said.

He said the scales can be off by 2,000 pounds either way. He said there is no way to keep the scales calibrated. Most of the time, the error favors the haulers, which means the county is losing revenue from the inaccurate scales.

Hardin said the problem cannot be fixed. He said the foundation piers are sinking and parts are rusting. He said the life expectancy of such scales is around 20 years.

Lyons said the problem with the bailer is that the bearings are worn out and parts are missing. The bailer was purchased in 1999. Lyons said the wear and tear on the bailer is a sign of how successful the county’s recycling program has become, but the program will grind to a halt if the bailer goes out.

The committee is continuing to look for ways of expanding the recycling program and will request to apply for a state grant, which would provide $25,000. The grant requires a 25 percent match. The committee will ask the County Commission’s Budget Committee to approve the request for matching funds.

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