Budget Committee OKs Washington County’s waste plan

Gary B. Gray • Apr 10, 2013 at 9:12 PM

Washington County’s proposed $5.9 million, 10-year agreement with Waste Management to send its solid waste to Johnson City-owned Iris Glen Environmental Landfill sailed through the County Commission’s Budget Committee Wednesday and is headed for a vote by the commission on April 22.

The agreement, which would be the first ever between the two entities, is expected to save the county more than $2 million in that time, or about $213,000 a year.

“The gist of what we’re doing here is we’ve asked for a 10-year prices, and we’ve looked at all kinds of scenarios,” said County Mayor Dan Eldridge. “One benefit is we will limit our fuel costs by going to the closest landfill. It just turns out Waste Management operates Iris Glen and they also came in with the low bid. We would like the commission to give this a thumbs up so we can get locked in.”

Should the plan be OK’d, the county’s purchasing agent will get to work on finalizing a contract with the company.

The county received bids from Advanced Disposal Services, which opened a new landfill in Blountville last year and serves Kingsport; Republic Services, which operates Carter Valley Landfill in Hawkins County; and Waste Management, which came in at a $26.65 per-ton cost. That is $15.85 less per ton that the county has been paying.

“Usually, a company will raise their rates by at least 1 percent each year, but with this they can’t go up,” said Solid Waste Department Director Charlie Baines.

Under the proposed resolution, the county would maintain its five convenience centers and continue to use county vehicles to transport the waste from the centers to Iris Glen. Transportation costs have been calculated at $2.25 a mile, rising 3 percent a year.

The county has spent an average of about $627,000 a year to haul waste from its five convenience centers to Iris Glen. That figure is based on averages from the past two years and includes number of trips, transportation costs, disposal costs and the tipping fee.

Budget Committee members also unanimously voted to send a resolution to commissioners that, if approved, would set in motion the hiring of a company to perform detailed safety risk assessments of all county schools.

The request came from the Education Committee and then the Board of Education, which agreed to procure third-party security assessments of the county’s 14 schools not to exceed $6,000 per school, contingent on approval by the County Commission. Funding would come from a reserve account containing funds from unclaimed county property, said Bobbye Webb, Accounts and Budgets Office director.

“Let’s find out exactly what the needs are before we start implementing remedies,” Eldridge said. “It will be the school board’s responsibility to review a list of companies.”

The proposal essentially gives $84,000 to the school system so it can identify a security firm to perform the assessments. After the assessment is completed, the firm would return a review with the following criteria: threat and vulnerability assessment; facility and surrounding environment risk analysis; review of existing facility security measures; review of operating policies and procedures; systems and security personnel; identification of security deficiencies and vulnerabilities; recommendations for security enhancements to facilities, programs, policies and procedures; security enhancement implementation plan; and a written report with supporting documentation.

The school board would have the option to add any criteria to the list and would ultimately decide how to implement any security measures mentioned in the report.

In other business, the Budget Committee approved a $512,000 spending plan to transform the old county office building into the new Washington County Archives Building, with Ned Irwin at the helm.

It’s a bit early to say specifically how the building will look once transformed, but Irwin said at least a portion of the first floor would be opened up to the ceiling to take advantage of natural light.

If approved by the County Commission, construction would be funded from capital outlay notes. About $10,000 to $12,000 a month is deposited in a reserve fund for the county’s archives operations. The money comes from additional fees on vehicle registration and court fines.

Irwin said county archives would reimburse the total amount, plus about $70,000 in annual debt service based on an eight-year amortization at 2 percent interest without dipping into the county’s general fund.

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